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Madigan declares "Operation Glass House" a success

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
Ill. Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan speaks at a press conference on Aug. 25, 2011 regarding "Operation Glass House," an effort to go after the top 25 child pornography consumers in the state.

Ill. Attorney General Lisa Madigan says a year-long effort to target the top 25 consumers of child pornography in Illinois has been a success.

Two Belleville men - 61-year-old Garold Lee Semelka and Mike G. Telkamp, 48, were the 25th and 26th men arrested under Operation Glass House, the anti-child pornography initiative Madigan launched in August 2010.

"Thank you for your help," Belleville police chief William Clay told Madigan on Thursday afternoon. Even though Belleville is the largest sworn police force south of Springfield, Clay said, the arrests of Semelka and Telkamp would not have been possible without assistance from the attorney general's investigators.

"We lack the economies of scale to fight these types of crimes," Clay said. "You need specialized units, skilled people, and technologies. We don't have the ability to fight this kind of crime."

Madigan did not know how many of the 26 men arrested had been convicted of possession of child pornography, or if any of them produced of the material they traded or consumed.

But she says word of the crackdown clearly got out among criminals.

"A year ago when this started, 8,000 Illinois IP addresses were seen viewing known child porn. That number is now 3,700," she said. "One young man, when he was brought into the lockup, everyone else said 'well, who arrested you?' And he said 'oh, the attorney general.' And they said 'oh, child pornography.'"

Madigan says investigators will focus this year on individuals who are viewing or trading the most violent and horrific images and videos.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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