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70 charged for child porn

A five-week investigation has resulted in charges against at least 70 men and one woman in the New York City area in what officials called one of the largest-ever roundups locally of people who anonymously trade child porn over the Internet.

The defendants include a police chief, a paramedic, a rabbi and a Boy Scout leader. Federal officials planned to announce the arrests at a news conference later Wednesday.

Authorities say advances in technology and computer capacity have allowed child-porn collectors to more easily amass vast troves of disturbing images and to exchange files with each other directly. The New York effort resulted in the seizure of nearly 600 desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices containing a total of 175 terabytes of storage.

Agents are still examining the devices to locate and catalogue evidence — an arduous task that could result in more arrests. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children also will use its analysts to review the images to see whether it can identify children using databases of known victims.

"We refer to each of these images as a crime scene photo because that's exactly what they are," said John Ryan, the organization's chief executive officer.

Authorities decided to launch the operation after the arrest in January of the former police chief of suburban Mount Pleasant, Brian Fanelli, who pleaded not guilty this week to federal charges of knowingly receiving and distributing child pornography. Court papers allege that Fanelli told investigators he began looking at child porn as research before it grew into a "personal interest."

The Canadian Press

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