Interview w/ Tim Ballard & Mark Mabry

Tim: The guy’s name was Marble.

Mark: Marble the child molester.

Tim: His name was Marble, and he looked like a marble. El Centro childporn…

Mark: Child Fugitive Caught in Calexico? ‘Child Pornography Fugitive Caught in Calexico Port’

Tim: No.

Mark:  Imperial Valley Press. ‘A man suspected of having child pornography was arrested in Calexico, El Centro, indicted in child sex crime’.

Tim: Is his name Marble?

Mark: Man, Imperial… “An Imperial man was arrested on suspicion of possession of child pornography on Tuesday, after authorities allegedly found child pornography on his computer. Homeland Security investigators, special agents began investigating local internet activity about child pornography.”


 

Intro: You are listening to Slave Stealer. “It is a world that I know I understand better than most people, but you don’t even know how real and how huge it is. There are laws put in place to protect kids, and one of the laws, surprise, surprise, is you can’t sell them. If you guys are traffickers, you’d come in just like this. This is what happens. This is the core of the problem.”

 

Tim: Welcome to Slave Stealer podcast. I am here shouting too loud for…

Mark: You broke the mike!

Tim: …with co-host Mark Mabry, but we welcome you, and this is our kind of Throwback Thursday version We’re just going to talk about couple of interesting things that we think you should know about.   

Mark: One in particular… People ask, “Do you do domestic work?” “Is everything overseas?” So, I want a domestic Throwback Thursday.

Tim: Yeah, we… See, it’s interesting. We… I say about half our, half our case load right now is domestic, but the domestic cases are the ones we cannot readily talk about because they are generally more sensitive, because they require more… They require a different set of tools, they are law enforcement sensitive – a lot of software, a lot of techniques that require us to go online and do things that we can’t reveal to the public because there are countermeasures that the bad guys could utilize if they knew what we were doing. So… 

Mark: Like what?

Tim: Well, let me…let me just tell you and ruin every case we have pending! So yeah, we do a ton of domestic work, but because of the nature of it, we don’t get to talk too much about it. We let our law enforcement partners talk about it. They come out with a press release, and then we just point our donors to it. And they are usually kind enough to mention us in it, and we leave it at that.  

Mark: Yeah. What do you find… Before we jump into that, give me like kind of a glossary of key elements for this story that…a few little background tidbits that will help us understand things that you are going to say in the story. Are there any like technical things we need to understand?

Tim: No, I mean, you should just know that things like child pornography and acquiring children, in the United States in particular, are readily available on the internet – mostly in the dark web. These are the places that Google is not going to reach.   

Mark: You mean Google does not reach everything?

Tim: Google does not reach everything. There are many parts of the internet that are impossible for Google to reach, and these are the places where the pedophiles flock to. They network, they trade in child pornography, they negotiate child sex deals, and we are way behind in terms of our response to this. And so – when I say we,  I mean the nation, law enforcement in general – and so we are working to better the solution to that problem – building software, working with some of the most advanced technology companies on the planet, working with the top U.S. officials in this area. And we are building tools that will allow law enforcement to go into these dark places and root out these bad guys.   

Mark: Are there…on the market right now – or not on the market, in the space right now – there are software solutions that are good. What are some of the good guys out there with great software that are busting… Is Thorn?

Tim: Oh, absolutely yeah! So Thorn, which is Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore’s foundation – they have internet computer gurus/engineers who are constantly in a think tank developing software. They have developed tools, for example – and they have been open about this – tools that allow law enforcement to identify when a child is actually soliciting himself or herself. And the reason… And it has to do with how they are writing the post. Now, the posts look like they are coming from some pimp, but the pimp takes the kid and forces them to write their own advertisement on Backpage or Craigslist, or different social media networks – Facebook. And so it looks like it is coming from an adult.  

Mark: Or a kid. Looks like it is coming from an adult, but it’s a kid.

Tim: They are trying to make it look like it is coming from an adult, or that a pimp is negotiating the deal, when in fact the child himself or herself is writing it.

Mark: Under duress.

Tim: Under duress. And so the software actually has…looks for key identifiers that would indicate that it’s a child.  

Mark: Voiceprint things.

Tim: And then they would…yes, and verbage and different things. And then that would allow law enforcement to go solicit that individual in their current capacity to pull them out and find them. So that’s some software that Thorn is involved in building.   

Mark: That’s cool! Way to go Demi and Ashton Kutcher – on the good guy list.

Tim: Good guy list.

Mark: Ok, that’s… Let’s storm straight into the story that I’d like you to tell today. It happened in Imperial Valley. Talk to me.

Tim: So it was, again it was… We identified somebody through means I can’t reveal, but it was somebody who was dealing in the dark net.

Mark: Now, we were there doing some training. Can you reveal that?

Tim: Yeah. I mean that’s how…that’s how it started. We were training…

Mark: Yeah, walk me through the whole story.

Tim: We went down to Imperial County and we trained law enforcement – several agencies – on how to go on the dark net and find people who are trading in child pornography. And during the training, we found this manual, this ‘how to’ manual. And it was multiple pages – I want to say somewhere between 40 and 50 pages long.

Mark: How to what?

Tim: Well, I am getting to that, ok. It’s ‘how to’…

Mark: Oh, you are saving that?

Tim: I am saving that, yeah, the punchline.

Mark: Awesome. Stay tuned.

Tim: …how to court and ultimately rape a child. That’s what the manual was. And it said things like – and this is something that had been traded amongst many pedophiles…

Mark: So this manual has a title on it in pretty script that says, ‘How to court and rape a child’?

Tim: I don’t…I can’t tell you that that is the exact language, but that is what the manual was. And it talks about everything from how do you find a child – “well, find a niece or nephew that has friends and invite them over,” like starting there. And then from there, these are the kind of gifts you can give them, here’s the kind of things you can say to them so they trust you…and then it takes you down this whole dark horrific path to the point where you are controlling this child completely and abusing them sexually.

Mark: So you had… You found this manual in the training on the dark web.

Tim: On the dark web, being traded by someone who was in Imperial County. And then following up… And again, I can’t get into details of how we did this, but following up, we were able to – in an undercover capacity – able to ascertain the same person also possessed quite a bit of child pornography: child rape videos and images.

Mark: And then what?

Tim: And then, after that, we decided that this training should end with the search warrant for this individual’s home being at least mostly written. And that’s what we did. And so we were able to do the training, come back a week or so later after they got the paperwork in place, judge signed the warrant, and we were able to accompany the Imperial County sheriff’s office as they raided the home of this individual and seized his computer and talk to him.

Mark: Are you allowed to say his name?

Tim: Sure, yeah! He’s been convicted, it’s open, it’s public – his name is, his last name is Marble.

Mark: That is such a creepy pedophile name.

Tim: Why?

Mark: Marble. I don’t know, that’s like a movie character name.

Tim: Yeah.

Mark: “Mr. Marble, we’d like to have a look around.” So, were there any big or little surprises at the house?

Tim: So, yeah, a couple funny things… As law enforcement breached the door, he instantly said – we didn’t tell him why we were there – the minute the door was breached, he said, “Other people have been using my computer too!” “Well, we didn’t say we were here for your computer,” you know, “I’m not the only one, who uses it!” So it was obvious – he ended up confessing everything. And it was… Some of these cases get depressing, you know. You want to hate these guys completely because of what they are doing and the threat they pose. He actually told one of the sheriff deputies: “It’s a good thing you caught me,” because, he said, he was in the process of being a foster parent to a 7-year-old girl. And he said, “If I got that little girl, I was going to rape her. That’s why I was doing it. So it is a good thing you caught me.” And a lot of these guys, from my experience, do say that. They admit that they are monsters. And they don’t like that they are in this place. And some are almost relieved to get caught and be put away before they can really hurt somebody. I mean, it’s like they’ve lost control of their lives – they are so addicted to this horrific desire and passion and everything else. And so this guy in the interrogation, the thing that made it kind of sad… And we have video of him, we can probably put at least part of the video up on the website – he started talking about his life and how he was sexually abused as a child. You know, we talk a lot about how people can become addicted to child pornography because they start looking at pornography and that changes their brain – it basically creates brain damage, shrinkage in the brain, because of the overstimulation of the frontal lobes of the brain because that’s what people are going for, right, trying to get this chemical reaction and they overuse it and they overrun it and that ruins their life. It hurts their opportunity to have a normal, healthy, romantic relationship, you know, because their brain is now demented, and porn is the only thing that they recognize as fulfilling that need. It’s really sad. That’s a choice people make, like drugs. And it takes them to a dark place where they end up in jail. And all the guys – everyone who is a pedophile abusing children – are a threat to children and need to go to jail. But this case was a little bit different, and we see this often too. When you are abused as a child and that becomes your first sexual experience… And I’ve talked to so many psychologists to try to understand these guys – these guys that we’re investigating, interrogating. And they said it is absolutely true: when your first sexual experience as a child or a teenager, whatever that experience is, that becomes what your brain, as it’s still forming… It’s still, really physically hasn’t formed completely and so it’s still taking ideas and concepts and ingraining them into your person. And so sex becomes, to these kids who are being molested, can become a relationship that is defined by an adult and a child. And that’s what their brain recognizes as sex. So when they get older, and they start developing their sexuality, what they know to be that sexuality is relationships, sexual relationships, between an adult and a child. So they then become the offender.   

Mark: Now, to be clear, not every child that was molested grows up to become an offender…

Tim: Absolutely.

Mark: …or has that predisposition.

Tim: Absolutely. That’s not… Yeah, it’s not every…it’s certainly not every person who is abused, but it happens quite a bit.

Mark: It’s a factor in a lot of people we catch.

Tim: It’s a factor, and in the case of this man, that’s what he was telling us – that he had been abused. And I mean, you listen to the interrogation and it makes you sad. You know he needs to go to jail because he is a threat. He admits himself he needs to go to jail and he’s a threat. But when you hear his story, you realize how tragic this whole thing is. It’s so cyclical.  

Mark: Is there a more… And I love to hear you say that and it breaks my heart too, because there’s…seems like it’s really easy, and we do it frequently. Some of the bad guys, like Fuego and these guys that we bust that are selling kids – they are horrible monsters. And then there are guys like Marble who…there’s a high degree of sympathy where you’re like, “Man, I’m just sad for your ruined, shattered life that started out ruined and shattered and you were left to try to pick up the pieces.” Like, how do you go about your job sympathetically or empathetically? You know what I am saying?  

Tim: You just carry that sadness with you, but you don’t regret for one second putting the guy behind bars.

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: Because there’s nothing more important than children and their safety and the preservation of their innocence. So they have to go to jail. And you just look at them and you are sympathetic to their plight, and you hope that they can have redemption and they can somehow be healed from their brain damage.  

Mark: You know, it’s interesting. Our intro music on the Slave Stealer podcast is – you know the intro sequence where you are talking about, “They look like you, and this guy and that guy” – that actually took place in an interrogation room in Haiti. And you can see it on “The Abolitionists“, the documentary that is coming out on April 8th, that you are actually lecturing me. It was our very first op that I accompanied you on and we busted those two ladies who were selling kids, and I said to you, “Man, I’m a little torn up here.” Do you remember that?   

Tim: Yeah, absolutely!

Mark: And you went off and you were like, “Listen, this is hard,” and you essentially said the same thing. But I understand it now with a little more time under my belt.  

Tim: Yeah. Look, you never… And it’s, it was a shocking thing for me when I started doing these cases – and this is outside even child cases, drug cases, any kind of case. There is an element of human sadness when you are taking someone from their family – even as bad as they are, there are people that love them and can’t believe they made these decisions. And you are the guy taking them away in handcuffs and putting them in jail for a long time. And you can’t help but feel an element of human sympathy, you know. And you don’t know what decisions led, you know, what things happened to this person that led them to make these decisions. But that doesn’t mean for a second that you don’t wish they were in jail.

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: You know they need to go to jail, but it’s rarely this total victorious, just, “Yeah, we did this!” You know, it’s… There can be some of that, but the whole thing is sad. The whole thing is tragic. It is tragic for everybody involved, especially for the victims, especially for the children, the parents. But also, in some ways, for the bad guys…

Mark: Yeah.

Tim: But it doesn’t mean you stop doing it.

Mark: I think that’s a great little Throwback Thursday moment. Sign us off, man.

Tim: Thanks for tuning in, and we will see you next time on Slave Stealer podcast.