Miguel Gomez, 48, of Mexico, was charged with pandering obscenity.
Investigators from the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force contacted deputies Aug. 23 and told them someone using a computer at an apartment in the 4800 block of Cleveland Road had downloaded child pornography.
Deputies obtained a search warrant and on Thursday showed up at the apartment, which is located at a Vermilion Township nursery where Gomez works.
No one was home when investigators arrived, but inside the apartment they found the windows blacked out with garbage bags.
A single laptop also sat on a table.
Investigators seized the laptop and started analyzing its contents. Within minutes they found several child pornography videos, a deputy’s report said.
The nursery manager told deputies Gomez was outside working, and she agreed to fetch him. Erie County Deputy Johann Matute, who speaks Spanish, then interviewed Gomez in a van operated by the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children task force.
“I then asked Miguel if he had downloaded pornographic materials involving children onto his computer,” Matute’s report said. “Miguel paused for a moment, then put his head down and nodded ‘yes.’”
“Miguel then stated he had made a mistake and that he was sorry for what he did,” the report said.
Deputies concluded the interview and took Gomez to the Erie County jail, where he’s being held without bond.
The task force’s new van played a key role in expediting the investigation, authorities said.
“The difference is in how fast the computers are analyzed,” Erie County Sheriff Chief Deputy Jared Oliver said. “It took about an hour and a half.”
The task force bought the van in July for about $150,000, using money from the U.S. Department of Justice, said David Frattare, the task force’s lead investigator.
The van’s three computers, VHS player and DVD player allow investigators to complete their investigation entirely at the scene.
In the past, investigators had to identify the suspect computer, then get a search warrant to allow local police or deputies to seize the computer.
The equipment would then be taken back to a state lab for analysis, and state officials would later provide their findings to local officials. If there’s enough evidence, local officials would then make an arrest.
That process, however, would often take months — sometimes up to a year, Frattare said.
Now, with the mobile van, investigators can roll up at the scene with a search warrant in hand, immediately seize the computer and analyze its contents — all within less than two hours.
“It saves us a ton of time,” Frattare said. “Now we don’t have to search through a pile of devices that may or may not contain incriminating evidence.”
When investigators found child porn videos on Gomez’ computer Thursday, they arrested him on the spot.
“We’re trying to get the word out to local agencies,” Frattare said. “We want to take (the van) out as many times as possible.”