The FBI credits its cyber laboratory for helping indict 28 people in Connecticut who are accused of trading child pornography and being sexual predators since last year.

The lab is being used by the Innocent Images Task Force, which includes personnel from the FBI, federal postal inspectors, state and local police. They use the lab for online investigations and computer examinations of child pornography trading.

"It's been a great tool," FBI agent Kathy Schumaker said. "At any one time there are hundreds of people online trading or trawling for children."

The lab, which opened in July 2004, is also used to investigate sophisticated computer crimes, such as Internet and credit card fraud, identity and intellectual property theft, and hacking. It includes computers that forensic examiners use to locate and extract evidence from computers; specialized equipment to allow agents to go under cover to target pedophiles on the Internet by posing as minors; and another computer laboratory used to train law enforcement how to conduct investigations and gather computer evidence.

Schumaker, one of the lab's supervisors, said task force members receive in-depth training on all aspects of investigating computer crimes. "It's good for both sides because then they take those skills back to their departments and teach others," she said.