Special Agent Daniel Alfin was the leader of an investigation into one of the world’s largest pedophile rings on Tor. But did his Army counterparts enable these same child predators?
FBI Special Agent Daniel Alfin made national news headlines last year after he was killed while conducting a federal search warrant at the home of a suspected pedophile predator in Sunrise, Florida.
His death reignited conversation of how, in 2015, he led the FBI team that shutdown one of the largest child pornography rings in the world. After the creator of child pornography website “Playpen” (yes, playpen) accidentally leaked his secret IP address, agents launched ‘Operation Pacifier’ (get it?). They tracked him down, arrested him, then kept the site running for a few more weeks in order to identify and track down as many other child predators as possible.
The task was overwhelming, the site swimming with more than 150,000 users worldwide who categorized the pornography according to age and sexual activity. Some came to view the graphic photos and videos; others created their own content by abusing children in horrific ways on camera.
Law enforcement agencies from around the world banded together to take down the identified pedophiles, resulting in the arrests of 351 people in the United States and 548 arrests abroad. 55 children being abused on the site were rescued domestically. Abroad, 296 children.
How do child porn websites hide?
Well, they rely on Tor, a software that enables anonymous communication by concealing location and usage from anyone conducting surveillance or analysis. Essentially, Tor is the browser used to access the ‘dark web,’ commonly regarded as the seedy underbelly of the internet .
Who created Tor?
A group of mathematicians and computer scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory did, back in the 1990s, in order to protect U.S. intelligence communications online. Unfortunately, the invention has an incredibly sinister downside, one that the FBI’s Crimes Against Children unit now has to battle daily.
Of this battle, Daniel Alfin once said,“it’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game. Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”
Daniel Alfin died fighting that battle, as did his teammate Special Agent Laura Schwarzenberger. Both are remembered as heroes who fought to protect the most vulnerable from the most hideous. They were laid to rest earlier this month and leave behind spouses and young sons. May they rest in peace.