Retired Special Investigator Wayne Becker of the Dent County Sheriff’s Office accepted a Law Enforcement Award Jan. 9 from the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri. The ceremony took place at the Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse in St. Louis. Becker was recognized his work combating the production and distribution of child pornography on the internet. Specifically, Becker developed methods identifying criminal activity on Freenet, an anonymous peer-to-peer internet platform.
Becker’s award commendation states:
“Wayne Becker figured out how to find child pornography offenders on Freenet and then developed the program to do it. Due to Becker’s persistence, intelligence, and dedication, hundreds of child pornography offenders on Freenet have been caught and prosecuted. Becker was an investigator with the Dent County Sheriff’s Department and joined the Missouri Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task force in 2008. Becker was able to create an algorithm that determined whom on Freenet were requesting images of child pornography.
“As of early 2017, Becker had worked on approximately 50 Freenet investigations, and the police found child pornography in every single one of those cases. In Wyoming, a defendant was located with over a half-million images of child pornography. In St. Louis, investigations on Freenet identified many offenders including a “hands on” producer of child pornography in United States v. James Bowen, and a repeat offender of possessing child pornography in United States v. Clinton Hester.
“Becker’s program was challenged in court in United States v. Aiden Dickerman. Magistrate Judge Nannette Baker found the program reliable and denied the motion to suppress.
“The program now works on the national ICAC database and has netted hundreds of child pornography offenders all over the country. Without the hard work and dedication of S.I. Becker, there would be no justice for victims of child pornography whose images are traded on Freenet.”