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men had used the Internet Service Provider America Online to distribute child pornography and arrange meetings with children for the purpose of sexually abusing them.97 In 1997 the United States Congress dedicated US$10 million dollars to fund 60 new positions, including 25 FBI agents to investigate and prosecute men on the Internet who seek to contact children for later meetings and abuse.98 To continue their work, in

1998, the program received an addition US$10 million.99

As of March 1998, efforts by

the FBI Task Force and the US Customs Services have resulted in 184 arrests and 240 convictions.100

In a joint investigation and sting, known as the “Tholian Web,” agents of the US Customs Service and the New York State Attorney General Dennis C. Vacco’s office spent eighteen months tracking and gathering evidence on child pornography traffickers in the United States, Germany, Switzerland and Great Britain. By the end of 1997 the operation had resulted in 120 prosecution referrals and 32 convictions across the United States. 101

From 1996 to 1998 the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, in Arlington, Virginia, USA was involved in 60 “traveler cases,” the term used to refer to adults who contact child victims through the Internet, then arrange meetings in which the children are sexually abused. 102

In the US FBI agents are also going online undercover to catch those seeking children for sexual exploitation. The FBI’s national undercover operation focuses on perpetrators who are willing to travel for the purpose of sexually exploiting a child, and those who produce and distribute child pornography. 103

Switzerland In one of the largest child pornography cases, US federal investigators, posing as owners of an “adult” book and video store, made contact over the Internet with Swiss citizens, John Grabenstetter, 52, and his wife. The couple was arrested after they traveled to the United States with the intent of selling 250 child pornography CD-ROMS containing some 9,000 images for US$10,000. Most of the pictures were of young children being sexually abused by adults. The couple’s 2-year-old daughter was among those photographed. The couple was charged with 10 counts of possession and sale of child pornography. 104

Canada Michael Andrew Gibbon, 29, was arrested by Canadian police after he offered a Web site operator sexually explicit pictures of children that would be available after an upcoming babysitting job. In his home police found 3 videocassette recorders, computer equipment, more than 400 videotapes, 15 CD-ROMS, 41 floppy disks, photographic equipment, and 53 rolls of undeveloped film. After further investigation he was charged with nine counts of sexually touching three female toddlers, sexually assaulting two of them, and creating and possessing pornography for distribution. The Web site Gibbon had visited was a sting operation set up by the US Department of Justice. 105

United States Police put an advertisement on the Internet, claiming to be a divorced woman with three daughters, 7, 10, and 12. Mark Douglas Poehlman answered the advertisement saying he wanted to have sex with the girls. He arranged to meet the woman at a motel. Undercover agents

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