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Three men indicted for trafficking child pornography on the Internet are the first to be arrested in an investigation that could lead to charges against hundreds of people across the country, federal prosecutors said Thursday. The arrests resulted from the use of the latest techniques and technology to track down suspected child pornographers online, said U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott. More than 300 video files depicting children — babies to teenagers — were stored on computers confiscated during the eight-month investigation by state law enforcement and the FBI, Scott said. “This is part of a much larger investigation that will potentially include hundred of persons across the United States,” he said. Scott said agents used the expanded powers granted by the Protect Act in their investigation, although he provided no details. The Protect Act, passed by Congress last spring, strengthened the government’s ability to investigate and punish violent crimes against children. It also increased penalties for child pornographers and gave investigators more options in tracking them down. The three suspects were charged with receiving and distributing child pornography over the Internet, which carries a possible penalty of five to 20 years in prison for each count. Two were being held in the Sacramento County Jail; the other was released on his own recognizance. One suspect was also charged with soliciting pornography over the Internet. Prosecutors allege he contacted minors in online chat rooms and communicated with them about sexual matters. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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