BY DANZA JOHNSON
n TUPELO – The Lee County Cyber Crime Unit has a new home, but the same goal.
The cyber crime lab was moved from a small room inside the Lee County Jail to a much larger one at the Lee County Work Center where more equipment could be housed. Created in 2006, the Cyber Crime Unit handles computer and Internet related crimes throughout Northeast Mississippi.
The two-man unit was created when Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson decided to try his hand at Dateline’s To Catch a Predator series where authorities arrested sex predators who solicited the services you young girls and boys via the Internet.
Now with the new lab up and running, Johnson said dealing with Internet crime will be easier.
“This was such a need because so many people are using the Internet now,” said Johnson. “We were spending a lot of time sending computers off to get analyzed. Sometimes it took seven months to get one case ready for grand jury because it took a while for the computers be analyzed. Now everything is done in house.”
Danny Giroux and James Cunnigham make up the unit. Giroux said the lab allows for the sheriff’s department to assist with a wide range of computer-related cases.
“The primary cases we work deal with child pornography and other Internet sex crimes against children,” said Giroux. “But we assist other departments throughput the area in any way that they need us to.”
Over the three-year span the unit has been running, nearly 20 people have been arrested for Internet crimes.
The equipment used in the unit mostly comes from cases the unit has worked. The Mississippi State University Computer Forensic Training Center donated some of the equipment and trains the unit.