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Postal inspector cited for breaking up child porn ring

Thursday - 5/22/2014, 8:30am  ET

WASHINGTON -- When you think of a postal inspector, you may not think of a crime fighter, but that's exactly what Brian Bone does.

He's an inspector with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and he was given the Child Protection Award at a ceremony at the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.

Bone, who lives in Arlington, was cited for his investigation into an international child pornography ring. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and DOJ narrative, in 2013, Bone not only helped break up the ring, but "coordinated efforts to identify, interview and obtain victim services for more than 100 children" who had been sexually abused.

Bone's role in the investigation started when he linked the images of a 4-year-old boy found on an offender's computer to a boy in protective custody in a suspected case of sexual abuse.

"It was just taking bits and pieces that we had and just putting it together," Bone said of his role.

But officials at the ceremony Wednesday explained that Bone's follow-up really stood out. He made sure that each of the children was linked to services and child victim specialists.

For Bone, helping victims after the fact was an important part of the case, "because there are a lot of resources out there" to help victims of child sexual abuse.

Holly Austin Smith, who had been exploited as a 14-year-old, spoke about the need for that kind of sensitivity and follow-up. When she ran away from home and was subjected to human trafficking in 1992, she told the crowd there was little understanding of how victimization worked.

Years later, she's an author, a biologist and consultant. And she says she's able to declare, "Although I was a victim of sex trafficking, I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor."

National Missing Children's Day is May 25, and a number of awards were made at the Department of Justice ceremony, including an award in a poster contest. Dawson Mack, 11, of Athens, Alabama, submitted the winning entry. It shows a cluster of children holding up signs against the backdrop of an American flag.

"When I was given this assignment, I thought of the missing child's friends. They would miss the person and probably do something to find him or her. So my poster shows a lot of kids holding up signs and three children are missing. The American flag means that this is happening around the country. This is a problem that needs to be stopped," Mack said.

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