FBI Casts Wider Net for On-Line Pedophile Prowlers: Search Warrants Executed in 20 Cities
Seper, Jerry, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
FBI agents yesterday served search warrants in 20 cities - including Rockville and Silver Spring, and Stafford and Chesterfield, Va. - in an ongoing nationwide investigation into the use of computer on-line services and the Internet to lure children into sexual encounters.
"These cases have already revealed the ease and frequency with which criminals have used modern technology to cause grave harm to children," Mr. Freeh said.
The warrants, which also targeted the distribution of child pornography, were issued as part of a three-year investigation code-named "Innocent Images." In a crackdown three months ago, agents arrested a dozen suspects during raids in 10 cities, including Miami, New York, Dallas and Newark, N.J.
The undercover probe began in May 1993 after George Stanley Burdynski Jr., a 10-year-old Prince George's County boy, was abducted from his Brentwood home and never found. Law enforcement authorities said two suspects in the case were believed to have sexually abused a number of boys in the mid-Atlantic region.
The Burdynski inquiry, conducted from the FBI's Baltimore field office, led to the discovery of the use of various on-line services as an exchange point for child pornography. The boy's father, George Burdynski, said FBI agents who raided the home of James Kowalski, a suspect in the boy's disappearance, found his son's name signed on some computer games.
"Today's searches are a continuation of a highly successful investigation which has already resulted in many convictions to date," Mr. Freeh said. "These crimes, preying on innocent children, represent every parent's worst nightmare."
He said the FBI had made the on-line probe a top investigative priority.
To date, the investigation has resulted in 80 arrests and 66 felony convictions, the FBI said.
In addition to searches yesterday in four Maryland and Virginia cities, raids were conducted by agents in Albany, N.Y.; Broomfield, Colo.; Dayton and Dublin, Ohio; Huntington, W.Va.; Kinnelon, N.J.; Laurel Bay, N.C.; Oklahoma City; Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Ponca City, Okla.; Raleigh, N.C.; Salem, N.H.; Schenectady, N.Y.; Susanville, Calif.; Tampa., Fla.; and Whitefish Bay, Wis.
FBI spokesman Larry Faust said no arrests were made during the searches, pending a review of any evidence seized by agents. …