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Mount Pleasant Police Chief Case Leads To 71 Child Porn Arrests

The arrest of Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli on charges of possession of child pornography promoted a probe that resulted in 71 arrests.
The arrest of Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli on charges of possession of child pornography promoted a probe that resulted in 71 arrests. Photo Credit: ice.gov
Operation Caireen was the largest enforcement action taken against suspects who possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children.
Operation Caireen was the largest enforcement action taken against suspects who possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children. Photo Credit: ice.gov

MOUNT PLEASANT, N.Y. -- The arrest of Mount Pleasant Police Chief Brian Fanelli on child pornography charges prompted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to launch a probe that resulted in the recent arrest of 71 people, including two from Westchester County, who allegedly shared child pornogrpahy on line, officials said.

Officials said Operation Caireen was the largest-ever enforcement operation in New York targeting predators who possess, produce or distribute sexually explicit images of children.

As part of Operation Caireen, which began April 4 and ran until May 15, HSI special agents, New York City Police Department detectives and other law enforcement partners surreptitiously infiltrated peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing networks to identify users in the New York City metropolitan area who sought to acquire or distribute known or suspected images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit activities, officials said.

Operation Caireen produced several high profile arrests, including Queens reisdent Kenneth Gardner, who is a registered nurse at Westchester Medical Center, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE officials said.

Gardner was charged with romoting a sex performance of a child under age 17, possessing an obscene sexual performance by a child, and possessing a sexual performance by a child, authorities said.

Several of the defendants facing charges held positions of public trust, including two police officers, two registered nurses, a paramedic, an au pair, and an individual who served as both a den master with the Boy Scouts of America and a little league baseball coach, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"The sheer volume of confirmed and suspected instances of individuals engaging in the sexual exploitation of children identified through Operation Caireen is shocking and the professional backgrounds of many of the defendants is troubling. We can no longer assume that the only people who would stoop to prey on children are unemployed drifters," James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York said in a statement. "Clearly, this criminal activity has reached epidemic proportions and ICE HSI will continue to partner across jurisdictions to target those adults who egregiously violate the children of our communities."