DARK INTERNET: Minneapolis scientist charged in child porn ring - KMSP-TV

DARK INTERNET: Minneapolis scientist charged in massive child porn ring

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

On Tuesday, charges were filed against 14 people amid a federal bust of a nationwide child pornography ring -- and one of the men indicted is a Minneapolis scientist accused of using the "dark Internet."

In some ways, there's a sort of technological arms race when it comes to child pornography. As investigators get better at finding the traffickers, the providers go even deeper underground. What makes the group charged in Louisiana different is that the deception they deployed to get teens to perform sex acts -- and the sheer number of those who were watching.

An unsealed indictment revealed the identities of 14 people accused in a Louisiana-based child pornography ring that amassed more than 27,000 members -- among them, a young research scientist from Minneapolis, according to charging documents.

"This could just be the tip of the iceberg, absolutely," said Homeland Security Agent Gene Paulauskas.

Sean Jabbar holds a PhD in molecular biology. Until recently, he worked for the bio-tech company Beckman Coulter, in Chaska. Now, prosecutors are accusing him of downloading the pornography provided by the massive ring.

When agents arrived in South Minneapolis to arrest Jabbar, they said his wife was completely shocked by the allegations. She had no idea -- just as investigators did not know Jabbar lived across the street from Ramsey Middle School and Washburn High School. None of the victims are believed to be from those schools; however. They were all anonymous, all online.

According to Paulauskas, the ring was using something known as the "dark Internet," one that requires a special browser and a series of relays and routers that allow users to remain almost entirely anonymous.

"We have 20 other investigations right now unrelated to this," Paulauskas admitted. "We have more work than we can deal with right now."

It takes about 20 minutes to download the software that will allow a person to surf the so-called "dark Internet," and only about 20 seconds to find a slew of websites trading in child porn videos.

In the Louisiana case, the pornographers convinced teenage boys that they were watching a young woman undress. Then, they'd convince the boys to perform various sex acts. In reality, there was no attractive woman -- just thousands of pedophiles.

"Stress to your children the importance of privacy and safety," Paulauskas urged. "They have no idea who they're chatting with."

Paulauskas says parents should know there is no way to arrest the problem away. Instead, he contends the focus needs to be on educating parents and teens alike -- especially since the suspects can defy stereotypes.

"School administrators, coaches, clergy -- you just can't tell looking at them," Paulauskas said. "It's a really dark and horrible thing."

Jabbar remains in custody in Louisiana, and is scheduled to go on trial next month; however, Fox 9 News has learned a plea deal is in the works.

Homeland Security agents believe there are as many as 12 victims of the ring living in Minnesota, and at least 5 other suspects have been linked to the Louisiana group. The investigation remains active and ongoing.

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