Florida Child Porn Bust Nets 21 Suspects

An undercover operation in central Florida resulted in felony charges against 21 child pornography suspects and the recovery of more than 100,000 sexual images and 200 videos of children as young as a month old.

Nineteen of the 21 men are in custody following a six-month undercover online child pornography investigation, according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, and deputies have arrest warrants to apprehend the two remaining suspects.

The operation "Defender" bust represents the largest number of arrests made at one time in the history of Polk County and uncovered a library of disturbing videos and still photographs featuring sex between adults and children, among children and between children and animals.

"It is absolutely despicable," Judd told ABC News. "It is the absolute worst deviant behavior anyone can imagine."

One suspect, a 38-year-old car salesman named Joseph Allen, described by Judd as the investigation's "poster child," had more than 80,000 child pornography images on his computer alone. Allen admitted to authorities that he had been collecting child pornography for more eight years, Judd said.

Another startling discovery was a four-minute PowerPoint presentation that explained how to have sex with children from birth until age eight. The tutorial, which offered tips for avoiding getting caught, ended with a note to viewers to "have fun" and "be creative."

Judd declined to provide specific details about how investigators initially found the suspects, but said that sources were able to identify child pornographers and provide enough evidence for the sheriff's office to obtain search warrants for each of the 21 suspects' homes. Computers were seized and the computer crimes unit combed them for child pornography.

The suspects, who face various charges, range in age from 17 to 64. There is a busboy, a convenience store clerk, a cook, a handyman and a high school student among them, according to the sheriff's office. Some have criminal histories, but none of the suspects arrested had ever been convicted of any crimes of a sexual nature.

"And that's what worries us -- it's the ones we don't know," Judd said, adding that his department's investigation is ongoing. "We don't know who took these photographs or made these video clips and we don't know where these child victims are."

Florida residents convicted of sexual felonies fall into two categories depending on the crime they committed. A "sexual offender" is a person who has one conviction for a felony sexual crime against a child. A "sexual predator" designation must be made by a judge after the person is found guilty of a capital or first-degree felony that is sexual in nature.

Florida law requires predators and offenders to register within 48 hours of moving to a new county. Predator addresses are verified quarterly, while offender addresses are checked out once a year.

While Judd took pride in his department's undercover operation, he also said he hopes that it will encourage other counties across the country to do the same, adding that the repulsive discoveries investigators made are not confined to Polk County.

"You cannot imagine how reprehensible these folks are and their conduct was," Judd said. "It should shock the conscience of every person in our society."

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