updated 5/14/2004 3:26:40 PM ET 2004-05-14T19:26:40

A nationwide probe into child pornography trafficking using Internet file-sharing networks has resulted in 1,000 investigations and at least 65 arrests, federal officials announced Friday.

The broader investigation centers on the growing use of “peer-to-peer,” or P2P, networks that allow users to connect computers directly with one another to exchange files rather than using traditional Internet servers that are easier to track.

“No one should be able to avoid prosecution for contributing to the abuse and exploitation of the nation’s children,” Attorney General John Ashcroft said.

Agents from the Justice Department, FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sometimes working undercover, have infiltrated many of the networks in the past few months to identify people involved in distribution of child pornography.

Charges against the 65 people arrested so far have included possession and distribution of child pornography and sexual abuse of children. The 1,000 investigations have involved more than 350 searches of computers and other property, officials said.

Among the specific cases:

  • Jimmy Richard Morrison faces federal pornography distribution charges in Wyoming alleging he was a P2P client named “Pedokiller.” Authorities said that Morrison used the P2P networks because police were known to be examining Internet chat rooms for child pornography activity.
  • Mathew Fling was indicted in New York in February for child pornography in an investigation that also led to allegations that Fling molested two girls, ages 6 and 8, during the past four years. Fling faces state charges in the molestation case.
  • A P2P investigation in Lincoln, Neb., led to the arrest of Jeremiah Zalesky on charges that he molested the daughter of a couple with whom he was staying. Child pornography images were later found on his computer, officials said.

The maximum sentence for a federal child pornography distribution conviction is 20 years in prison.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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