RIVERSIDE – The newest member of the DA’s Bureau of Investigation loves to meet new people, chew on branches, and play “tug-o-war”. But he also is very good at finding electronic device that suspects, like those involved in child pornography, try to hide from authorities.
Meet Chewie, an electronic scent detection canine with our Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement/Internet Crimes Against Children (SAFE/ICAC) task force. Chewie is an English Labrador who turns two years old in October.
Chewie is specially trained to locate electronic devices - such as laptops, thumb drives, SD cards, external hard drives, cell phones, tablets, etc. - used to store digital media.
One of the important missions of the SAFE/ICAC task force is investigating crimes committed against children using the internet and other electronic communications including possessing, distributing, and producing child pornography; sextortion of minors; and adults seeking sex with a minor. That’s where Chewie’s skills truly help.
DA Sr. Investigator Joel Pabelico was selected at the beginning of this year to be Chewie’s handler. Chewie was trained extensively before Pabelico met him earlier this month to begin their partnership.
“Being Chewie’s handler is a lot of work. It’s fun and tiring at the same time,” Pabelico said. “I am extremely proud to be his handler because of the work we are doing. Knowing that Chewie has the ability to locate electronic storage devices that may contain videos or images of child sexual assault material which can help convict a suspect and ultimately save a child – there is no greater satisfaction.”
He and Chewie were already put to work as the task force served a search warrant last week in Menifee subsequent to a child pornography investigation and Chewie located multiple electronic storage devices in the home and garage.
When our Bureau of Investigation determined there was a need for an electronic scent detection (ESD) canine to assist the task force they found Operation Underground Railroad, a non-profit organization which agreed to sponsor an ESD canine.
We invite you to see a video about Chewie and the work he does here: https://youtu.be/pjpTUSfT1Ls
The Riverside County SAFE/ICAC task force, led by the DA’s Bureau of Investigation, is a team of local, state and federal enforcement officials dedicated to proactively monitoring and tracking registered sex offenders to ensure their compliance with registration requirements, and to protect our children through community education and the identification, apprehension, and prosecution of those who commit internet crimes against children. The task force works in partnership with the following agencies: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the Beaumont, Murrieta, and Riverside police departments, California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation, FBI, the Inland Regional Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking task force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Marshals Service. The task force is an affiliate with the San Diego SAFE/ICAC. For more information about the task force or sex offender information and internet safety tips, please visit www.RivCoSAFE.org
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