Daniel Alfin, one of the FBI agents killed Tuesday morning in Sunrise, was a veteran agent who investigated one of the country’s largest child pornography operations.
He led an investigation into a website called Playpen, believed to be the largest child pornography website on the dark web. After seizing the site’s servers, FBI investigators kept it in operation for two weeks, having attached software to detect users’ identities.
Although that turned out to be a controversial decision, the investigation yielded a massive number of arrests. About 900 people were arrested around the world and children in the United States were rescued, according to the FBI.
“Members of his enterprise who were raping children, who were producing child pornography all around the world — those cases continue to be indicted and prosecuted,” Alfin said in a 2017 FBI news release announcing the sentencing of the site’s founder to 30 years in prison.
Alfin, 36, was married and had one child, according to FBI special agent George Piro, who made a statement to the news media late Tuesday afternoon about Alfin and Special Agent Laura Schwartzenberger, the other agent killed while serving a search warrant in Sunrise.
Alfin’s neighbor in Weston, Michael Mathis, who remembers seeing Alfin playing basketball with his family, was stunned to hear the news.
“He was killed in that shooting?” he said. “That’s so sad. He lived two houses down. He seemed like a good family man. That’s really sad.”
Nicholas Weaver, a computer security expert at the University of California at Berkeley, said Alfin’s work broke legal ground and resulted in the rescue of hundreds of children.
“One legacy of the Playpen cases is a charge in judicial rules on search warrants,” he said. “Another was nearly 300 children identified and rescued from abuse around the world. Daniel Alfin helped make that possible.”
“His work speaks for itself: You just read the court cases and transcripts and it breaks your heart,” Weaver said. “I can’t even hope to estimate the number of children Agent Alfin and Agent Schwartzenberger’s investigations have rescued from horrific circumstances. The loss of both is a tragedy.”
Born in New York, he joined the FBI in 2009, serving first in the Albany, N.Y., office, agent Piro said. He has worked for the FBI’s Miami office since 2017.
Alfin became an FBI agent in 2009, using his academic background in information science to catch cybercriminals preying on children.
“It’s a cat-and-mouse game, except it’s not a game,” he said. “Kids are being abused, and it’s our job to stop that.”
Source By DAVID FLESHLER
SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL