The operation to catch Mr Maatman, who has openly advocated that people have sex with children, began in earnest several weeks ago when the Dutch anti-human trafficking organisation Free a Girl discovered that Mr Maatman, who is also Dutch, had fled to Mexico to escape open court cases in the Netherlands.
Free a Girl alerted the US-based organisation Operation Underground Railroad and asked their colleagues to ensnare Mr Maatman. Operation Underground Railroad complied. Undercover operatives began making contact with Mr Maatman in chat rooms and online spaces, attempting to ascertain his location.
“We were able to confirm he was in Mexico and then talking to him in just different chat rooms,” Matt Osborne, the group’s director of global operations, told Spectrum News NY1. “He said, ‘I’m in a really kind of dangerous rundown area. I don’t want to give you my address. I don’t want you guys to come see me, but you can come meet me at a gas station.’”
Mr Maatman paid for his online indiscretion. He was arrested at a bus station near a gas station, allegedly in possession of both a pistol and cocaine, and has been incarcerated in a Mexico City prison.
Since Mr Maatman’s arrest was not in his home and they did not know where he lived, law enforcement officials and aligned non-profit organisations continued their search for sexually explict material involving children that he was reportedly trying to monetize.
Law enforcement ultimately figured out where Mr Maatman was living by tracing his movements through security camera footage, which is where Hidu — a black lab trained at a facility in Indianapolis — entered the fray.
Hidu, working his very first case, sniffed out TPPO — a chemical used to keep small memory devices like hard drives from overheating — in a laundry basket full of dirty clothes, where law enforcement officials found a cellphone with illegal child sexual abuse material. Hidu also led them to other child porography in the apartment. In total, law enforcement allegedly discovered roughly four terabytes of illegal material in the unit.
Mr Maatman has been charged with human trafficking and drug and weapons possession.