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Investigation leads to child porn charges against Farmington man
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Investigation leads to child porn charges against Farmington man

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MSHP investigation leads to child porn charges against Farmington man

Antonio S. Monroe

An area man is charged with multiple counts of promoting child pornography following an investigation by the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Antonio S. Monroe, 23, of Farmington, was charged in St. Francois County on Friday with five counts of first-degree promoting child pornography.

Monroe is the third local man charged this month with child pornography-related offenses resulting from the MSHP’s Division of Drug and Crime Control investigations.

According to a probable cause statement from the MSHP’s Division of Drug and Crime Control, on April 14, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) gave investigators a CyberTip containing information received from Dropbox Incorporated.

The report states Dropbox reported that on Jan. 27, at 3:04 a.m., a user uploaded eight images and two videos they believed to be child pornography into a Dropbox account.

Dropbox records provided to authorities reportedly identified the user as “Mark Apple” with a Google email address. Dropbox also handed over the unique IP address used to upload the files, according to the report.

An investigator reviewed copies of the videos provided by Dropbox and reported that one video showed a female child, who appeared to be about 2 years old, being raped by an adult male. The other video reportedly showed a female child, who appeared to be about 10–12-year-old, involved in a sex act.

Police determined that the IP address provided by Dropbox was registered to Charter Communications Inc. (Spectrum Internet). The internet service provider complied with a search warrant and provided records showing that the IP address was assigned to Monroe’s account for service at an address on Doubet Lane in Farmington when the videos were uploaded.

On June 16, investigators served a search warrant at the Doubet Lane address and made contact with Monroe.

During an interview with police, Monroe allegedly confirmed he owned the internet connection and used the reported screen name on some of his online accounts. The screen name mentioned during the interview was the same as the one used as part of the email reported by Dropbox in the original CyberTip, according to the statement.

The report states that Monroe also admitted to seeing child pornography online and knowingly viewing illicit files which showed children he reportedly thought were 14–15-year-old girls.

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Police obtained a search warrant for the man’s iPhone. Within a messaging application known as Telegram, which works similar to other messaging apps, investigators reportedly saw that Monroe was having a private text conversation with another user on Feb 7.

In the messaging discussion, the man and the other user allegedly talked about trading files, and specifically, Monroe reportedly asked the other person, “got any rap3,” seemingly referring to rape-related material.

Investigators were reportedly able to see where Monroe and the other user had sent each other links to content on a cloud-based storage platform called MEGA, based in New Zealand, which is accessible by any device connected to the internet.

An investigator said in his report that through his training and experience as an Internet Crimes Against Children investigator, he knew that it is common for users to trade links used to access child pornography files instead of copies of the actual files themselves.

According to police, these links allow users to promote child pornography by providing a means to distribute, circulate, disseminate, present, and offer the files via a computer to anyone in the world.

The report states that on Aug. 22, the New Zealand government provided authorities a copy of the files stored online with MEGA at the link Monroe had reportedly shared. Police could then see the content of the files Monroe was allegedly promoting. An investigator reviewed some of the thousands of files provided by MEGA and said the overwhelming majority appeared to show child exploitation material.

The investigator reported reviewing five of the files in further detail, noting that the videos showed the rape and sodomization of children as small as toddlers by adult men and women.

Monroe was booked at the St. Francois County Sheriff’s Department on Friday, and a $75,000 bond was set in the case.

If released on bond, the man is ordered to house arrest and must comply with GPS and pre-trial monitoring. The court further ordered that Monroe not be allowed have contact with any child, and is prohibited from accessing the internet for any reason unless first approved by the court.

Monroe is scheduled to be in court on Tuesday for an initial appearance in the case.

Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com

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