The concept that we live in a global economy has been bandied around for some time. Alongside the idea that the economy may not have specifically defined borders, most adults in Salt Lake City may recognize that information can be shared across borders through the use of the Internet. What may not be as well known is that law enforcement agencies all across the country may share information as criminal investigations cross state lines.
Joint investigations between federal and local agents may not surprise that many people. But, from time-to-time, a fairly local probe may spread like wildfire, complicating the way a criminal investigation should be analyzed if the probe produces criminal charges.
Federal officials say that a man from the Ukraine ran a child pornography site for several years. He pleaded guilty to federal child pornography charges this week related to a nationwide investigation that has resulted in the arrests of people in 47 different states.
The Ukrainian man was sentenced to 30-years in federal prison under a plea deal he reached with U.S. attorneys. But, many other cases arose, including five people in Utah who were convicted of using the website. In all, more than 600 people across the country were brought into the investigation.
Law enforcement frequently uses resources to investigate Internet and computer-based crimes. Undercover stings are common, and agents may browse the web looking for evidence of a potential crime. In the recent nationwide probe into child pornography, police were not initially looking for evidence of the allegations surrounding the overseas pornography site. A police officer on the East Coast was reviewing emails on a computer seized during a criminal investigation of a man unrelated to the child pornography site.
That discovery led to law enforcement wiretaps of email accounts and the tracking of credit card transactions all over the country that were intended to find people who could be linked to using the site.
Source: The Salt Lake Tribune, “Five Utahns sentenced in global child porn investigation,” Michael McFall, Jan. 8, 2014; The Star-Ledger, “Ukrainian man who ran international child porn website pleads guilty, accepts 30-year term,” Jason Grant, Jan. 8, 2014