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Two Homeland Security Agents Arrested for Downloading Child Porn

In a turn of events not frequently seen in investigations of this sort, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) revealed that amidst an investigation into darknet child pornography viewers, two Homeland Security employees found themselves in handcuffs for downloading and distributing child pornography on the darknet. The first arrest took place in late December. Border Patrol agent Paul Casey Whipple faced a judge in a federal court in San Antonio on charges of production and distribution of child pornography.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations had been investigating darknet child pornography sites. One in particular, but due to the nature of the case, those details remained confidential. The investigation apparently began sometime last year—not the investigation into Whipple, specifically, but into the owners of a massive child pornography forum, as well as users from the same forum. FBI agent Larry Baker explained that the case involved a darknet forum with as many as 117,000 illegal pictures and videos.

According to a contact who works on identifying the site administrators and servers, very few darknet forums with that amount of content currently exist. The contact—who wishes to remain anonymous—explained that only one site comes even close to that number of images and videos. Currently, the largest site comes close, and although the runner-ups may have that many replies to posts, they do not have nearly as many images or videos, unique or not. This situation is very likely amidst a leadership shakeup, according to information the contact relayed to me. The site has more than a million subscribed members. The runner-ups are still in the 200,000 range.

I won’t name the site here, but the size and rapid growth of the site placed it directly in the law enforcement’s crosshairs. These sites often explode in popularity, sometimes reaching thousands of new users in under a week. But the bigger a site gets, the more likely law enforcement investigates the site. The source explained that the site has recently seen turbulence. Many users have written it off as normal, but they tricked us with Hansa too. If the police do have access to the site, the identification of two Homeland Security agents suddenly makes more sense.

After Whipple got arrested in December 2017, authorities did not reveal that his arrest connected to the ongoing ICE-HSI investigation into the massive child porography forum. The 34-year-old Border Patrol agent received one count of producing child pornography and one count of distributing child pornography. The public knew this much. Not long after, in early January, the FBI arrested 39-year-old Richard Nikolai Gratkowski for receiving child pornography. The ICE-HSI Department of Internal Affairs handed the case over to the FBI and Internal Revenue Service.

Baker testified that Gratkowski had first accessed child pornography on the darknet in 2016. He used his USAA bank account to buy Bitcoin and later signed up for a child pornography forum. In 2017, Gratkowski accessed three sites, but one in particular stood out: the one currently under scrutiny by Homeland Security. “He said that in April 2016, he turned to child porn and turned to the site and two other (child porn) sites on the TOR network,” Baker said. “He advised he’d been in a dark place as a result of problems with his wife, work stressors and financial stressors. …He went to the darknet to avoid detection.”

Gratkowski’s lawyer attempted to get the man out on bail by explaining that Gratkowski could have been searching for adult women dressed like children. U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Chestney found this notion utterly ridiculous. She said, “the website described was designed for child pornography. There’s not any other reason to go to that website. …You can’t get there accidentally.”

One comment

  1. Nothng new here, the white house is full of nonce’s

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