In my continuous search for a viable legislative solution to the issue of child trafficking in America I spoke with Patrick A. Trueman, the former Chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Criminal Division, U. S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., about the increase of child pornography in the United States.
While working at D.O.J., Trueman supervised the prosecution of child sex crimes, child pornography, and obscenity. He managed an office of twenty prosecutors and worked with the nation's ninety-three United States Attorneys to initiate and coordinate federal prosecutions.
The current debate and Trueman's extensive work in the field validate the impression that the federal government is not doing a good job in prosecuting child pornography distributors. Why? "Simple" he said, "there is too much money being made at the distribution end". He explained that distribution companies such as: Direct TV, Verizon, Dish Satellite, Comcast and other lesser known businesses, who distribute porn channels, stand a lot to lose in terms of revenues and "eyeballs".
Secondly, "legislating against the distribution of pornography is ineffective" he explained. "Americans on the whole are stalwart individuals with a strong sense of First Amendment Rights". Watching pornography in the privacy of one's home or hotel room is, according to most individuals whom I interviewed and who asked to remain anonymous, a constitutional right. So here's the catch. Existing federal laws legislate against the distribution of pornography. While taking away that right would directly obstruct the First Amendment Rights of the individual.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NECMEC), child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and among the fastest growing criminal segments on the internet. NCMEC claims that around 20 % of all pornography contains juvenile images. Without the source or supply (i.e. children), and access to these children the porn industry and certainly the production of pornographic content would be out of business. It is precisely at this juncture where drug trafficking organizations play a vital role.
The crime syndicates today are the underbelly of the industry and the biggest supplier to the porn business. The leading cartels who supply children are the: Mexican, Colombian, Russian and Ukrainian syndicates. The cartels pay the coyotes, "mules", "handlers", traffickers, corrupt border officials and pimps in order to source the children and then manage the distribution of supply across all stages in the chain. The cartels also control the routes of the trade. Once in control of the supply chain they become omnipotent.
It is an established fact that without the supply and distribution routes there would not be a porn, drugs or weapons industry with its manifold jutting tentacles.
On the other end of the legal spectrum producers of child pornography try to avoid prosecution by distributing their material across international borders. In recent years their distribution routes have increasingly become more complex given the resources and funding available to national and international law enforcement agencies working the cases. The most successful agencies pursuing these cases are: FBI's Innocents Lost program, Interpol, Europol, ICE, Border Patrol, and several others. In recent years multiple arrests and investigations have taken place thanks to the cooperation and extensive collaboration of the various agencies in charge.
The War on Illegal Pornography Coalition, a D.C. organization is requesting an audience with the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science in both the Senate and House. According to a letter that will be sent to Congress in the coming week, "Children of all ages are being exposed to obscene hardcore adult pornography on the Internet which can interfere with their psychological and moral development and lead to sexual misconduct, including sexual abuse of other children. The proliferation of this material on the Internet and elsewhere is also a significant factor in the growth of child pornography because for many individuals what begins as an attraction to hardcore adult pornography leads to viewing child pornography".
The Coalition's letter reinforces that "In addition to causing harm to children, addiction to obscene hardcore adult pornography also contributes to the breakup of marriages and the breakdown of families. Sexual violence against women is a prominent feature in most obscene hardcore adult pornography and is contributing to sexual degradation and sexual violence against women, on-the-job sexual harassment, and the increase demand for underage girls trafficked into prostitution. In Miller v California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973),the Supreme Court held that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment and that obscenity laws can constitutionally be enforced against "hard-core" adult pornography".
In 1988, Congress amended federal obscenity laws that ban distribution of obscene matter on cable/satellite TV and in retail establishments that are engaged in the business of selling obscene materials. A few years later in 1996, Congress prohibited distribution of obscene matter on the Internet. Most recently, in 2006, Congress barred production of obscene matter. Given these laws the FBI and the Department of Justice should be eager to investigate and prosecute all major producers and distributors of hardcore pornography on the Internet and elsewhere in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, under 18 U.S.C. Sections 1460-1469 and 18 U.S.C. 1961(1) of the United States Code.
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