By tamas mondovics
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Internet Predator Unit (IPU), led by Detective Phil Dubord, conducted an initiative last month to identify and arrest individuals who are engaged in the illegal receipt, possession, production and distribution of child pornographic material.
According to HCSO officials, the effort, appropriately named, “Operation Cyber Storm” resulted, in 10 successfully conducted investigations by the IPU involving subjects in Hillsborough County proliferating illicit graphic material involving very young children.
The two-and-half-month investigation resulted in the execution of 10 search warrants conducted by the IPU seizing a total of 67 computer items and 63 electronic items, officials said.
The IPUs were also assisted by HCSO Special Investigation Divisions and the Department of Patrol, as the investigation was coordinated with the assistance of Hillsborough County State Attorney Division Chief, Rita Peters.
“Six subjects were arrested on 337 felony counts of possession of child pornography,” said HCSO detective and spokesman, Larry McKinnon, adding that additional arrest and charges are pending upon completion of computer forensics for the other suspects not yet arrested.
HCSO arrested Bradley Britton, 24 of Brandon, Herbert Bowers, 66 of Riverview, as well as Tampa residents Angel Steven DeLa Rosa, 20, Warren Dale Schmidt, 56, Robert Wells, 38 and James Dagget, 62.
The six suspects were charged with a total of 336 counts of possession of child pornography, but McKinnon mentioned that three other suspects were also identified and their information was forwarded to other jurisdictions outside of Hillsborough County.
As expected, Dubord, a 25-year HCSO veteran and a computer forensics specialist, who has been with IPU for the past 16 years, said that saving a child from the hands of a sexual predator drives him and the small IPU unit under the direction of the Sheriff.
“No, we are not catching everyone, as the unit is small attacking a major problem,” he said, but added, “We are working as hard as possible.”
A recent streak of arrests in Hillsborough County gives a fine testimony to the unit’s skillful operation, while it draws attention to the magnitude of the problem and the necessity of continued vigilance on the part of local residents.
For more information please visit www.hcso.tampa.fl.us.