Saturday, February 19, 2011

Facebook Pornography Arrests - Human Trafficking enters a dark playground

This is the fifth report in Raymond Bechard's ongoing, four-month investigation into human trafficking - taking the form of child pornography - on Facebook.

"Terry Lewis." His profile photo on Facebook showed a distinguished looking gentleman with gray hair. “Terry” looked as though he could be recognized as a celebrity - or at least he had that "celebrity look" to him.

Like any Facebook profile, if you were a friend of “Terry,” you could look at his photos and see some of his interests. If you were a very good friend, he might even unlock his hidden Facebook gallery for you. There you would discover “Terry’s” real Facebook “interests” and “activities” . . . explicit photographs of children . . . hundreds of them.

We became aware of “Terry” and his child pornography habits - a form of human trafficking - in January of this year through a fictitious Facebook profile I created. “Terry” continually wanted to "trade" photos of children with our avatar which was created to bait men like him. The bait worked. While he continued to ask for photos in return for the ones he was sharing on his profile’s gallery, my devoted colleague, “Facebook Watcher” immediately reported him to law enforcement as did another man from Fairhope, Alabama.

Keep in mind; we make frequent reports to law enforcement whenever we witness these crimes on Facebook. Once the reports are made however, we don’t expect much progress. Federal and State internet crime investigators are horribly overworked and have hundreds of cases in front of them.

This time we were very pleased.

“We contacted Kentucky ICAC about him,” writes “Facebook Watcher” in today’s blog (ICAC is the State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.) “They were responsive and professional.” They were also very effective in their investigation leading to a criminal complaint issued this week by Mobile, Alabama based FBI agents. So who is the man behind Terry Lewis? The FBI identified him and arrested Jerry L. Cannon, who, until yesterday, was the Pastor at God's House in Dry Ridge, KY.

In an article citing the criminal complaint against Cannon, he is quoted to have sent a message on his Facebook profile saying, “'Hope you have pics for me, i added you to see my pics So far
i posted, kisses.'” The message was typical of those he sent to his “friends” including the “bait” profile we established.

If Facebook has the human and technological resources to topple governments and shift human history, shouldn’t it be able to prevent these images from being placed on their system? Why was this man – along with so many others - allowed by Facebook do this?

Today, Jerry Cannon’s wife and three children are facing an unknown future. They have been terrorized by the secret compulsions of a man they did not truly know. His church must face Sunday morning with gut-wrenching grief – their shepherd in jail facing charges of crimes even the most secular among us would call demonic.

Yet this is just one man who has been caught. There are thousands of others still out there . . . using Facebook as their dark playground.