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FDLE agents learn to find hidden child porn, catch offenders

‘Many people out there are preying on children,' agent says

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents led Richard Jason Cox in handcuffs out of his home Wednesday morning on Anoka Drive in Orlando to a waiting patrol car.

Cox, a twice-convicted sexual predator, was downloading child pornography, again, according to FDLE.

"This is the worst type of child pervert we have in our society," said Agent-in-Charge Danny Banks, head of the FDLE in Central Florida.

Florida Department of Corrections records show Cox served time in prison from 1998 to 2003 for sexual battery of a child under 16 and again from 2007 to 2010 for possession of child pornography.

Cox is a registered sexual predator, rather than just a sexual offender, according to Florida records. A predator is a person convicted of a first-degree felony sex crime, or two second-degree felony sex crimes.

Agents said they got a tip that Cox was downloading child pornography using an email address he'd registered with the FDLE. Predators are required to register all email and online accounts with the FDLE.

Immediately after FDLE served a warrant to search Cox’s Orlando home, agents used their mobile cyber forensics van parked outside Cox's house to analyze his cellphone. They said they discovered at least 29 images and videos of children as young as 5 years old being sexually battered on Cox's phone.

"There's a huge difference between pornography and child pornography," Banks said. "What we're targeting is those individuals going after our youngest children. Sexual videos, depiction of sexual acts with these young children."

Banks said he wanted to arrest Cox before he hurt another child.

"At the end of every single pictures is a victim," said Banks. "Sharing those pictures is only one step away from someone acting upon one of those victims.”

Banks said Cox was the 20th arrest for child pornography made by the FDLE in Central Florida this year. But that's not nearly enough.

"As busy as we are, we could commit twice as many people to this endeavor and still have plenty of subjects to target," Banks said. "Unfortunately, for our society we have that many people out there are preying on children. There's that many people in our communities right now that most people don't even know are there."

Banks said the FDLE simply doesn't have the resources to make more arrests.

Already, Banks doubled the number of cyber forensic analysts because of the growing need to recover hidden images or videos on suspects' computers or phones.

"We are running with increasing frequency into suspects who think they can hide the evidence from us," Banks said. "And many times they're as equally trained as some of our agents."

Banks said agents receive regular re-training on the latest cyber investigative techniques and technology.

"Our challenge to our agents is be as good as the suspects are," he said. "I don't want a case where our guys have a case they have to walk away from. Our challenge to them is to never that occurrence happen."

Arrests come from agents on the web, informants, and tips, Banks said.

"Even as smart as [suspects] are, I want them to worry that if I click this button and share a child porn image with someone else, the cops are coming after me," Banks said.

Banks urges every parent to know which sexual offenders or predators live in their neighborhood. Residents can search the FDLE Sex Offender & Predator Database by name, neighborhood, email address or even by college or university.


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