On June 15th, The Associated Press posted an article about Hidu, the electronic-sniffing dog who aided the police in a pedophilia arrest in Mexico.
The article reports:
An unusual alliance of international activist groups, Mexican prosecutors and a dog trained to sniff out memory devices joined forces this month to catch a high-profile suspected pedophile in Mexico City.
First, Free a Girl, a Netherlands-based group that fights human trafficking, tipped off activists at the U.S.-based Operation Underground Railroad that Jason Maatman, a Dutch man who openly advocated sex with children, had gone to Mexico after fleeing pending court cases in the Netherlands.
Maatman apparently thought loose Mexican law enforcement would allow him to operate freely in Mexico City, a sprawling metropolis of 21 million where most crimes go unpunished.
But he didn’t count on Hidu, a recent graduate of a dog academy that teaches canines to sniff out triphenylphosphine oxide, or TPPO, a chemical coating used in electronic devices like flash drives and memory cards.
The article notes that Jason Maatman was using online chat rooms to find victims, and the police used those chat rooms to lure him out of his apartment. When he was apprehended near a gas station, he was found to have a gun and cocaine in his possession. The problem was that authorities did not know where he lived (where he probably had his child pornography stashed). Using surveillance cameras, the police were able to find his apartment. The next challenge was to find any digital material he might have.
The article reports:
Once police obtained a search warrant, that is where Hidu came in; a black lab, he had been trained by Todd Jordan at his Jordan Detection K9 academy in Indianapolis, Indiana.
TPPO is a chemical used in small, solid-state memory devices to avoid overheating. There is just enough of its distinctive odor for dogs to locate it.
Jordan started out by training “accelerant detection” dogs, to look for evidence in possible arson cases in which an accelerant — things like gasoline — may have been used to start a blaze.
But the electronics detection dogs he’s trained — now 83 and counting — have come to be more in demand because criminals now use flash drives to store everything from contacts to cryptocurrencies used in drug deals.
…Hidu was brand new at the work; he had graduated just two weeks before and this was his first case — In fact, it was the first overseas case that any of Jordan’s dogs had handled.
O.U.R. flew Hidu and his handler to Mexico City, where prosecutors were about to search the apartment.
“My understanding is there was a cellphone hidden in a laundry basket with just rancid total terrible laundry, you know, dirty clothes in one corner that no one would go into,” Osborne said. “The dog found that phone.”
Hidu found more child porn material taped to a wall beneath a painting, Osborne said. “The dog sniffed out a couple of the hard drives in a few places in his apartment that were difficult for humans to find, but the dog sniffed it out.”
Prosecutors said the drives and devices contained about 4 terabytes of child sexual abuse material.
Godoy, the prosecutor, credited Operation Underground Railroad and Hidu for their help in the bust.
The article concludes:
“The message is clear for those who prey on a girl, a boy or an adolescent: In Mexico City there will be no room for impunity, and those that hurt or target them will be found, tried and sentenced,” Godoy said.
But questions remained. “Why was he (Maatman) not placed on an international wanted list?” by Dutch authorities, Hölsken said.
I am glad to see the amount of international cooperation among nations on this issue. That is the only way we will stop this crime.