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From a bank of computers at the Rhode Island state police headquarters, detectives tap into a network of child pornography traffickers.
 
On a recent Wednesday, illicit files are being traded in Coventry, Westerly and Woonsocket. Four years ago, the traffic was centralized in Providence, Woonsocket and West Warwick, the police say. Now, they watch as predators pop up all over the state.
 
In the past few years, the number of networks used by people dealing in child pornography has more than doubled. Sophisticated ones require users to be vetted and produce credentials. They need a sponsor. Network members support and encourage one another as they swap files of children being abused and share tips on how to elude the police, authorities say.
 
In recent years, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations agents — three who are on the Internet task force in Rhode Island — have shifted to a more victim-centered approach in investigating child pornography and child exploitation crimes, according to Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of the agency’s New England office.
 
They carefully examine each image, scouring for items in the background that could help locate the child. A bedspread, piece of clothing, or particular fabric could provide crucial clues about their whereabouts.
 
Rhode Island state police, through the task force, are also taking a new approach. The recent arrival of golden Labrador Thoreau makes Rhode Island the second state in the nation to have a police dog trained to sniff out hard drives, thumb drives and other technological gadgets that could contain child pornography.
 
 
Source: Providence Journal
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