Who was Daniel Alfin? FBI agent who probed darknet child porn site Playpen killed in Florida shooting

The veteran was the main face behind the investigation into Playpen and he helped rescue hundreds of children who were victims of abuse


                            Who was Daniel Alfin? FBI agent who probed darknet child porn site Playpen killed in Florida shooting
Broward County Sheriff escort a Fire Department vehicle after the killing of two FBI agents (Getty Images)

On February 2, two FBI agents were shot dead and three others were injured in Sunrise, Florida, while serving a federal search warrant on a child pornography suspect. Special Agents Laura Schwartzenberger, 43, and Daniel Alfin, 36, were investigating a case involving child porn and "violent crimes against children". The suspect was reportedly found dead inside his apartment after open firing at the agents. Law enforcement sources have suggested that the suspect killed himself.

Schwartzenberger and Alfin's bodies were draped with American flags and escorted into the Broward Medical Examiner's office in a Coral Springs Parkland Fire Department vehicle. FBI Director Christopher Wray paid tribute to the two agents, praising them for their "heroism" and vowed to "honor their ultimate sacrifice". 

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Law enforcement officers block off an area near where reports indicate that several FBI agents were shot as they served a warrant in a child exploitation case on February 2, 2021, in Sunrise, Florida (Getty Images)

Who was Daniel Alfin?

Alfin was born in New York and began his career with the FBI in Albany in 2009. FBI Miami Special Agent in Charge George Piro said at a press conference that Alfin joined the Miami field office in 2017 and worked on crime against children for six years. He reportedly became an FBI agent using his academic background in information science to track cybercriminals involved in child pornography. 

Court records suggest that he worked on several high-profile cases include the case again former Miami mayoral aide Rene Pedrosa, who was accused of allegedly groping a teen boy at City Hall and exchanging inappropriate pictures.

Alfin is reportedly survived by his wife and their child. 

(Fort Worth Police OA/Twitter)

Alfin investigated one of the country's biggest child porn operations

The veteran was the main face behind the investigation into Playpen, which is believed to be the largest child pornography website in the darknet. The investigation led to a  massive number of arrests. While around 900 people were taken into custody for their involvement with Playpen, children around the world and United States were rescued. The founder of the site was sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

Following the arrest, Alfin said in a 2017 news release, "Members of his enterprise who were raping children, who were producing child pornography all around the world — those cases continue to be indicted and prosecuted." After seizing Playpen's servers, FBI investigators continued to operate it for two weeks, to detect users' identity using a software. 



 

Alfin is remembered for his groundbreaking work 

The tragic death of Alfin has left many devastated. One of his neighbors in Weston, Michael Mathis, said in a statement remembering the late veteran, “He was killed in that shooting? That’s so sad. He lived two houses down. He seemed like a good family man. That’s really sad."

Meanwhile, Nicholas Weaver, who works as the computer security expert at the University of California at Berkeley praised Alfin for his role in rescuing hundreds of children. "One legacy of the Playpen cases is a charge in judicial rules on search warrants. Another was nearly 300 children identified and rescued from abuse around the world. Daniel Alfin helped make that possible."

"I can’t even hope to estimate the number of children Agent Alfin and Agent Schwartzenberger’s investigations have rescued from horrific circumstances. The loss of both is a tragedy," he added further. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki reportedly said that President Joe Biden has been briefed on the incident and would address it on Tuesday, February 2.

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