Chicago Man, Dozens of Others Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

Dozens of people are facing charges after federal authorities conducted a sweep of the messaging app Telegram. Such messaging apps are becoming popular for sharing criminal material, according to authorities, especially child pornography. The initiative was called “Operation Swipe Left.” 

As a result, more than two dozen people are facing charges for accessing the encrypted chatrooms where such material is shared. In this case, authorities found access to live-streamed sex abuse materials. In one case, authorities raided a home to find the man playing a video depicting an infant being abused. Four children were rescued as abuse was occurring. 

Determining Penalties for These Charges

Ultimately, a distinction is made between possessing, disseminating, and producing child pornography, with the sentences getting more severe the further you go. Those who produce child pornography face the highest sentences, while those who only possess child pornography end up with shorter sentences. In this case, law enforcement found both. In this case, it meant cracking Telegram’s encryption to access encrypted chats offered by the platform. Those who were caught producing child pornography faced charges in the range of 30 years. Those who were only caught in possession of child pornography faced sentences in the three-year range. 

What is Telegram?

Telegram is an app that places a premium on privacy. Its structure, therefore, is meant to frustrate government efforts to look over your shoulder. While noble and useful, it is also used by criminals to conduct criminal activity. In this case, Telegram forums were used to actively promote child pornography and kidnappings. As they were mocking police for not being able to catch them in their encrypted chat, the police were watching their conversations. 

How Was the Sting Conducted?

Ultimately, the capture of one individual led to the capture of two others, both with ties to Republican political interests. Those with the most to lose tend to make the best state witnesses. One of the men allowed DHS to take over his Telegram account and record what was being shared in those chatrooms. It remains difficult for law enforcement to crack the encryption of these groups by hacking alone. Nonetheless, cracks do form in the network, and on a long enough timescale, relentless efforts produce results.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you have been charged with possession of child pornography or related crimes, the Chicago criminal defense attorneys at David Freidberg’s law office can help you fight the charges, reduce the penalties, and produce a result you can live with. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help. 

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