Homeland Security made 8,000 child pornography arrests in past decade

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) -  Former janitor Jeremy Nelson was charged with four counts of production of child pornography earlier this week.

Now the Department of Homeland Security ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement,) the largest investigating agency of child pornography in America, has taken control of the investigation.

In the past 10 years, the agency has arrested more than 8,000 sexual predators nationwide. That averages out to about 800 arrests per year and more than 2 arrests per day.

Bryan Cox with Homeland Security Investigations says in the online underworld, creators and consumers of child porn disseminate and trade content across state lines and internationally.

"These are individuals who take a sexual pleasure out of it. What we see much more common is individuals will barter and trade child pornography that they have with each other," said Cox.

In some case, Cox says child pornography rings will charge membership fees for access to images, and consumers go to great lengths to hide those transactions by using virtual currency or other methods.

But in most cases, it's not about the money.

"It's not so much a financial component that we see, it`s much more a sexual component," said Cox.

Over the last 10 years, the field office that serves Alabama and its neighboring states has rescued three-dozen children from sexual exploitation.