Slain FBI agent remembered for success fighting child porn

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — A slain FBI agent was remembered for his intelligence, keen wit and for an investigation that took down the largest know child pornography websites during a memorial service.

Agents Daniel Alfin, 36, and Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, and were gunned down Tuesday while serving a search warrant at the Broward County home of a child pornography suspect. The service for Alfin was held at the Miami Dolphins’ football stadium, the day after a service held there for Schwartzenberger.

“Many of you here knew and loved Dan more than anyone. You knew his brilliance and famously dry humor. You loved his tenacity and his heart, one full of passion for fighting for children every single day,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Wray said Alfin’s team won the Director’s Award, the FBI’s highest honor, for Operation Pacifier. The investigation led to the arrest of a Naples, Florida, man who was the lead administrator of Playpen, a child pornography website with more than 150,000 users worldwide.

After the 2015 arrest, the FBI kept the website operating for two weeks to identify other users, hiding malware in the images to discover their IP addresses. From that effort, investigators sent more than 1,000 leads to FBI field offices across the country and thousands more to overseas law enforcement agencies.

According to the FBI, 350 arrests were made in the U.S. and 548 internationally, including 25 producers of child pornography and 51 abusers. The operation identified or rescued 55 American children who were sexually abused and 296 internationally.

“Its users were the worst of the worst, the stuff of nightmares,” Wray said. “Dan’s expertise helped identify them and stop the victimization of so many innocent children.”

Alfin was the primary case agent and the driving force behind the operation, Wray said. He said the case remains the most successful FBI operation on the dark web against online child sex offenders, he said.

Alfin’s casket was brought onto the field draped with an American flag, which was later folded into a triangle and presented to his family by Wray. Alfin was also given a 21-gun salute.

Federal government officials who attended the service with Wray were Acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and President Joe Biden’s Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall.

The shootings marked one of the bloodiest days in FBI history in South Florida and was among the deadliest nationally as well, according to the FBI website. Suspect David Huber, 55, killed himself before he could be arrested.