Info slips out on child-porn sting by GarCo sheriff
The Garfield County Sheriff’s Department may have some troubles trying to nab anyone who may be distributing child pornography.
That’s because the department launched an “undercover” operation late last month that it mistakenly told the public about Friday.
The department notified the public in its daily activity log that it had started an online investigation into the distribution of child porn on July 28, adding its investigation remains active.
But Jennifer Kelly, community relations assistant for the department, said that was a mistake.
“Our intent was not to advertise an undercover investigation,” she wrote in an email response to a query about the investigation. “However, at this time we cannot release any information because it may jeopardize the integrity of the case.”
It isn’t the first time the department has reported on its activity report that it has launched such an investigation. On May 25, the department’s log said it had started an investigation into the distribution of child pornography in Rifle.
While there are no reports from the department whether that investigation led to any arrests, the department has been successful in the past in arresting people suspected of possessing child porn.
Last year, the department created a new computer forensics and Internet investigations crime unit, which is located in the department’s Rifle annex. As a result, the unit has been able to speed forensic investigation of computers and other evidence related to such crimes.
That new unit resulted in several high-profile arrests in the past year.
In October, the unit arrested Michael Scott Bilotta, 28, on suspicion of having more than 750 gigabytes of child porn, according to the department.
In March 2010, the department arrested a 22-year-old Glenwood Springs man for having at least 50 sexually explicit images of children on his computer. That man, Michael Bruce Shaw, later pleaded guilty to one count of possessing and distributing child pornography.
That same month, the department arrested Christopher Earl Carlyle, a convicted sex offender, on suspicion of having more than 1,000 sexually explicit photos of children on his employer’s computer, plus prints and videos in his home, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.
The department has four detectives and a detective sergeant who investigate numerous felony-level cases, including computer crimes and crimes against children.