'Operation Predator' a multi-agency success
OKLAHOMA CITY — The recent sentencing of an eastern Oklahoma man for producing child pornography is an example of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's cooperation with international law enforcement agencies, according to ICE's resident agent in charge in Oklahoma.David Anthony Baker, 35, of Howe was sentenced Dec. 19 to 39 years in prison after he pleaded guilty in July to charges of producing child pornography and to producing child pornography as a registered sex offender, said Paul Steenson, ICE's resident agent in charge in Oklahoma.Baker, who was on supervised release after a California conviction for lewd molestation of a child, is in the custody of U.S. marshals pending his assignment to a federal prison. His attorneys did not respond to phone calls and emails for comment.The investigation began in July 2012 when a foreign law enforcement agency, which Steenson declined to identify, notified the Cyber Crimes Center in the U.S. that it had identified a person in Oklahoma who was uploading child porn."It's connected to a lot of ongoing criminal investigations that we have going," Steenson said.Steenson said child pornography sites are often hosted in other countries where they are detected by international law enforcement agencies."We have a presence in 48 countries throughout the world. They share with us and get information to a local field office in the U.S., and vice versa," Steenson said.Dani Bennett, an ICE spokeswoman, said child pornography is a unique crime in that money is often not the motivating factor."He uploaded it to the internet. And the reason he uploaded it to the Internet was so others on the Internet would send him child pornography," Bennett said.Bennett said one of the agencies ICE partners with is the international police agency Interpol, which seeks various clues into a suspect's nationality."If it appears a person is speaking with an English accent ... those are the type of leads that come to us," Bennett said.The Oklahoma girl in the case has received counseling and assistance, Steenson said."The key in all of these cases is to identify the victim and help that victim," he said. "In addition to putting the bad guy away, that is what our goal is."ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said child pornography is a subject few people want to discuss, but that everyone should be aware of it."It's a type of investigation that's going on at every agency, sadly there's enough work to go around," Rusnok said.Steenson said the investigation, which included Homeland Security Investigations, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, and the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, was conducted under Homeland Security's "Operation Predator," an international program intended to help protect children from sexual abuse.