Blue Orchid

Customs Agent Goes Overseas To Close Down Porn Ring

Marshall Heeger is a man on a mission, 5,000 miles from home.

"The ways of doing things are different here," says the U.S. customs agent who transferred from California to Moscow three years ago, with his wife, Inessa, and his daughter, Kristina.

Heeger is investigating the manufacture and distribution of child pornography because the country with the biggest appetite for this product is the United States. For Heeger, the mission is personal.

"I'm doing it for my 14-year-old daughter, so that she and her friends can be a little bit safer," he tells 48 Hours Investigates correspondent Troy Roberts.

He began by looking into Blue Orchid, a Russian Web site that was marketing and selling videotapes containing child pornography. The site was getting a lot of business from Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

Blue Orchid offered customers around the world an entire catalogue of child pornography - tapes for about $200 each. It even gave discounts for volume.

"One of their selling points is, they have children below the age of 14," says Heeger.

In Moscow, Heeger formed an unlikely alliance with Moscow Police Detective Eduard Lopatik. "We just spoke different languages, but we both spoke police work," he says of Lopatik.

Heeger and his new partner went after the source, notorious Russian pornographer Vladimir Timfayev, living openly in a town about 500 miles east of Moscow.

Timofayev spoke to American journalists for the first time, telling Roberts, "I like, or I love, children. I consider them to be a piece of joy of my life. " He admits, "As our government describes me, as a pedophile, let them."

As Heeger dug deeper, he discovered that Blue Orchid wasn't just peddling pornography; it was making it.

Heeger and his Russian counterpart had to find a boy featured in one brutal videotape – his testimony would be crucial. They tracked him to the village where he and his family live in poverty.

The boy told Heeger he was lured to a Moscow apartment and brutalized for days.

Why didn't he go to the police after he was released?"

"I didn't know where to go," the boy says. "I just wanted to wait a little bit, grow up and punish them myself."

Heeger and Lopatik knew the only way find the brains behind Blue Orchid was to follow the money. So they set up a sting, with the U.S. Customs Cyber-Smuggling Center in Fairfax, Va.

Agents there, who can make untraceable online purchases, ordered the video, wired the money, and waited to see who picked it up back in Moscow. Months later, it paid off.

Heeger was there as Russian cops raided the homes of the Blue Orchid leaders, finding tapes and assorted sexual paraphernalia. Among those arrested was Sergei Garbko, a licensed doctor, who ran the Blue Orchid site out of an apartment in Moscow.

Garbko led Heeger to Blue Orchid clients in America.

Soon, Heeger would come face to face with a suspected serial pedophile, Glenn Martikean, 44, a hotel janitor from Portage, Ind.

In a stroke of luck, Martikean came to Moscow, "for tourism and for sex with boys," says Heeger.

"Right after he crossed the border checkpoint, we set up our surveillance, and we conducted our surveillance 24 hours a day," Heeger says. "Investigators rigged Martikean's hotel room with a hidden camera."

Back in Indiana, customs raided Martikean's home and discovered enough child pornography to bring felony charges. But to arrest him, customs agents would have to lure him back to the U.S.

To do that, Heeger went undercover himself; introduced to Martikean, he pretended to be a fellow pedophile hiding in Russia from American authorities.

Heeger gained his trust, and proposed a plan: they'll fly to America, get Martikean's savings, then return to Russia and start a new Internet kiddie porn service together.

But when he arrives at Chicago's O'Hare airport, Martikean finds authorities waiting. He was sentenced this summer to 20 years in prison.

Heeger and his Russian counterpart ultimately helped bring down 40 people connected to Blue Orchid all over the United States.

"A lot of people went to jail who were hurting children," Heeger says, "And they're not going to be able to do that."

With his mission accomplished, Heeger is now back in Washington.

"If you're a pedophile, you're a criminal," he says. "You can run but you can't hide, because we're going to work together and we're going to get you."