Attorney General’s task force catching more child predators

Over the last 12 years, a total of 165 people have been convicted of child exploitation crimes by the task force

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A Rankin County man has been arrested on child porn charges. 61-year old Vernon Williams of Brandon is charged with child exploitation for possession of child pornography.

Earlier this week, 35-year-old Kevin Jenkins of Pelahatchie plead guilty to production of child pornography.

The reason those predators, and others, are in custody is because of a unit in the Attorney General’s office.

Over the last 12 years, a total of 165 people have been convicted of child exploitation crimes by Attorney General Jim Hood’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Jay Houston is the chief investigator of the Cyber Crime Division. He’s on the computer and social media much of the day looking for potential child predators.

Houston says that a lot of child porn and pictures come from the dark web, but another source is out there. Houston is advising parents to start checking in with their children and their social media apps, especially those with private messaging functions.

“We see, often times, that the child predator will pretend to be a child your child’s age and get information from them, and ask them for inappropriate pictures. But, obviously, they would not, say, send me an inappropriate photo. They use their gift of gab to talk that person into taking. And once they have one picture, just one picture, they have their claws in them,” said Houston.

According to Houston, most of the task force’s job is catching predators online before they prey on a child. Their characteristics vary, and there are no visible signs of someone who is involved with child porn.

“We’ve had the guys who have no job, haven’t left the home in several years and their only outlet was the internet, and they would download apps to talk to like-minded people,” said Houston.

If a child becomes involved with an online predator, often times their emotions and interaction with friends and family will change.

Houston recommends that if you’re worried for your child’s safety online, you can always ask them “what’s going on" and “what’s wrong?”

Investigators say anyone under the age of 18 who sends inappropriate photos from their devices to anyone is considered a felon - it is illegal. Facebook and Twitter, by law, have to report those photos to the national center for missing and exploited children.

The task force is urging parents to communicate to their children to not send nude photos to anyone. This hinders the investigations of real child pornographers and future investigations.

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