Louisiana State Police have acquired a new tool to help solve child porn cases: a dog named Maggie who's trained to sniff out even the smallest electronic devices that might be used to store images and videos, including memory cards and flash drives.
At a press conference Monday about recent child exploitation arrests across Louisiana, state Attorney General Jeff Landry called Maggie "the first dog of its kind in Louisiana."
Landry said dozens of people in Louisiana were arrested over the past two months and charged with crimes involving the exploitation of children on the internet — most often possession of child pornography — as part of an annual national push to address the growing problem.
Operation Broken Heart involves collaboration among federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Landry said the initiative resulted in 63 arrests across Louisiana in April and May. The victims were between the ages of 3 and 13.
Maggie, a 2-year-old black lab, has already had some success assisting investigators during the operation. Her handler, Trooper First Class Tommy Bellue, said she's able to recognize a certain chemical that's used in all electronic devices with storage capacity.
A task force that is part of a national effort made 51 arrests in April and May on child exploitation charges, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff…
Maggie, who was born in in Yorktown Heights, New York, is one of only 19 Electronic Storage Detection Canines worldwide, according to a Louisiana State Police March 25 Facebook post.
"Sexual exploitation of kids is gut-wrenching and involves unspeakable things that would shock the conscience of every one," Landry said. "We are hoping that Operation Broken Heart sends a powerful message to perpetrators across the country — that law enforcement will find you and we will protect our children."
He called on parents to be more aware of their children's activities online and help them avoid the dangers that often lurk in the unseen corners of the internet.
"Unfortunately, this operation is really a microcosm of a bigger problem in our state and in our nation, and these perpetrators aren't people walking around with any special tattoo or marking on them," Landry said. "It could be anyone."
Landry also thanked the dozens of Louisiana law enforcement partners that participated in the initiative. He said more resources are needed to address the problem in a comprehensive way year round.