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AG’s Office investigating use of technology in child exploitation

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The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is expanding its investigation of the use of technology to distribute child pornography and has requested the cooperation of Giganews to provide information that will aid in the investigation.

Last week, Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Affairs Sharon Pino sent a letter to Giganews CEO Ronald B. Yokubaitis demanding answers about the company and users’ practices regarding child exploitation.

Giganews is the world’s largest newsgroup service provider with servers located in countries across the globe. Newsgroups are informal discussion groups for people with similar interests.

In April, backpage.com, a popular classified advertising website similar to Craigslist, was shut down by the federal government for knowingly facilitating child sex trafficking.

An investigator with the Attorney General’s Office told the Roswell Daily Record he is aware of 16 mainstream websites that are being used for sex trafficking.

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“Protecting New Mexico’s children from horrific sexual violence and exploitation is the number one priority of our Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, and I am fully expecting Giganews to cooperate with our expanding investigation,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a released statement. “Our office continues to battle child exploitation and human trafficking in New Mexico and large, out-of-state corporations operating in New Mexico have an obligation to contribute to this vital mission for public safety.”

The letter states, “For example, our office spearheads the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and Human Trafficking Task force, both consisting of statewide law enforcement agencies committed to investigating and combating exploitation of children and adults in New Mexico. As part of this work, we have successfully partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in union with Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Instagram and numerous other electronic service providers and databases to protect the integrity of their business and prevent illicit misuse by users.”

“Further, the Attorney General’s Office demands that Giganews immediately report any individuals engaging in the illegal trade of contraband images of child exploitation to the OAG and the NCMEC and provide a list of IP addresses regardless of the status of the user’s subscription status,” concludes the letter.

Balderas oversees the New Mexico ICAC Task Force and created the New Mexico Human Trafficking Task Force, which he also oversees. To report suspected child exploitation please call the Office of the Attorney General at 505-717-3500, or 1-800-THE-LOST 1-800-843-5678 or missingkids.com.