Detective Constable Jason Oton from the RGP High Tech Crime Unit (HTCU) has been commended by the US Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Attaché at the US Embassy in London.
In a recent letter addressed to Commissioner of Police Eddie Yome, the US attaché has expressed his “most sincere appreciation” for the officer’s efforts during a Gibraltar investigation involving the forensic examination of computer equipment seized during the course of R v Fisher in March 2015. The defendant in that case is currently serving a prison sentence after being convicted at the Supreme Court of Gibraltar in September 2015 on several counts of Voyeurism, Possession and Showing Indecent Photographs of Children.
It was during the course of his computer forensic examination that the RGP officer identified a US-based Skype user suspected of exchanging Child Exploitation material with a suspect in Gibraltar. The subsequent coordination through Interpol resulted in a US investigation that identified Michigan-based US national Michael PIERCE, who was arrested in March 2016 by US Federal Agents.
The US investigation saw officers seizing considerable material showing PIERCE had allegedly produced child exploitation material with at least four (4) minors, aged between 1– 8, in addition to allegedly possessing several hundred videos depicting child sexual exploitation. US Homeland Security have highlighted that the “offender would have most certainly continued these alleged offences against children” had it not been for the RGP providing the investigative lead in this case. For his part, the lead US Special Agent conducting the investigation has stated that PIERCE “may turn out to be one of the worst offenders we’ve ever encountered”.
Commenting on this senior international recognition, the Head of RGP Crime & Protective Services Supt McGrail stated that “the RGP had for many years enjoyed links to the US FBI and Homeland Security”, and was delighted at this latest investigative success. He explained that “DC OTON’s achievements in the field of computer forensics were highly regarded”, as evidenced by an invitation that was extended to the officer back in May 2015 by the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS) to assist as a trainer at the “Basic Computer Forensic Examiner” training course held in the USA.
"Cyber crime, including Child Online Exploitation, is a growing problem for police forces worldwide, and Gibraltar is no exception. In the same way that technological advances have positively influenced society, cyberspace has become an environment for transnational criminality that presents numerous challenges, at a time when our resources are under increased pressure and demand. An estimated 80 per cent of cyber crime worldwide is said to be preventable through simple online safety and general personal security precautions. This is why the RGP continues to raise awareness of cyber safety at every available opportunity.
I fully appreciate the devastating emotional and sometimes financial consequences this type of crime can have on victims, which is why we remain committed to preventing cyber crime and protecting our communities with the assistance of local and international partners. This includes the RGP’s recent participation as a key member of the Small Island Nations Centre of Excellence for Research & Education (SINCERE) in cyber-crime, which has secured EU funding for the purposes of cyber-crime investigation training, research and education, creating networks and sharing products and work to address the demands of the digital age."