The US Justice Department is offering $300,000 to help set up an Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which would investigate online child exploitation cases in the southern two-thirds of Texas. There are 45 such task forces nationally, one of the first covered only a part of Texas says Assistant Attorney General Grant Sparks.
"We found with the growth of the internet and the proliferation of online child exploitation crimes, that there's a need to have another one in a state the size of Texas."
The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force will investigate child pornography and, says Sparks; it will be proactive in the search for internet predators.
"Attorney General Office investigators will essentially go into chat rooms and hold themselves out as minors."
And Sparks says it doesn't take long for investigators to get requests for sex.
"Even the ones who have been doing it quite a while are astounded on a daily basis by the number of solicitations they get just seconds after they log into an internet chat room. They're solicited directly for sex sometimes within he first two or three minutes of getting on line as a 13-year-old girl or a 14-year-old boy or who ever they're holding themselves out as they day."
Sparks is with the Texas Attorney General's Cyber Crimes Unit and says since it's inception in 2003 it has arrested 77 online predators.