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Mercer Co. Sheriff’s Dept teaming up with FBI to crack down on child exploitation and human trafficking

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The Mercer County Sheriff's Department along with the FBI is cracking down on the exploitation of children and human trafficking by creating a new memorandum of understanding.

What was once called the West Virginia Crimes Against Children Task Force will now be called the West Virginia Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.

"The FBI really values it's relationship with state and local partners and without the relationship we do have with the local law enforcement, the FBI is not able to fulfill it's mission so it really is a valuable relationship," Jeffrey S. McCormick with the FBI said.

Since the Sheriff's Department has joined the task force, there have been a number of arrests, not only in the county, but throughout the state.

"Chief Deputy Parks and Sheriff Bailey has dedicated a full time officer to perform investigative functions to work hand in hand with the FBI," Detective- Sergeant, Steven A. Sommers with the Mercer County Sheriff's Department said.

But there are some challenges in adding this updated memorandum.

"More training more knowledge and not just for investigations, but more knowledge in state rulings, circuit rulings and U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The amount of resource needed for just a single investigation, the forensics that are involved in it. Just one investigation can add 10 more people and a lot of hours," Sommers explained.

According to Sommers, there have been 10 arrests in Mercer County within the last 8 months that involve internet crimes, including child pornography, production of child pornography, and online solicitation of children.

"Penalties state and federal can range from 3 years to life. It really depends on the offense that was committed," Sommer said.

Star Connor

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