SUNRISE, FLORIDA — Two years after two FBI agents were murdered in Florida while investigating a child sex trafficking ring, officials in the U.S. and Australia have cracked the case.
In 2021, FBI Special Agents Daniel Alfin and Laura Schwartzenberger were executing a search warrant for a computer hacker in Sunrise, Florida, when they were shot dead at the scene. Three other agents were injured in the crossfire before the suspect, David Lee Huber, took his own life.
After the murder of the two agents, the FBI started an investigation targeting users of the peer-to-peer network uncovered on Huber’s computer.
As they began to unravel the network of pedophiles, investigators came across suspects located in Australia who were sharing child sex abuse material on the dark web. The information was shared with authorities in Australia.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) said most of the alleged Australian suspects had professional IT skills and used software to share files anonymously, chat on message boards and access websites within the peer-to-peer network using encryption and other methods to avoid detection by law enforcement.
According to the FBI, 13 children were rescued during the operation. In addition, 79 arrests, 65 indictments, and 43 convictions have been made in the U.S. and 19 men have been arrested in Australia.
Australian Federal Police Commander Helen Schneider said the Australian suspects have been sharing files over the network for over ten years and personally knew some victims.
“Viewing, distributing and producing child abuse material is a horrific crime, and the lengths that this network went to avoid detection is an indication of just how dangerous they were,” Schneider said.
Officials say 200 criminal leads have been sent to partner countries and more than 300 investigations have been opened related to the case.