DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado man who paid a very high price for his country in combat and is now a hero again. He’s part of a program called H-E-R-O Human Exploitation Rescue Operative — or HERO.
It’s part of the National Association to Protect Children and Department of Homeland Security effort to go after child predators.READ MORE: Study: COVID Pandemic Sparked Increased Demand For Homes Farther From Downtown Denver
Marine Sgt. Gabriel Martinez of Elizabeth lost his legs while serving his country. It happened in Afghanistan while clearing explosive devices.
“After I was wounded I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. To be quite honest, I didn’t even know if I would be able to walk again,” Martinez told CBS4’s Rick Sallinger.
The cheers of “welcome home” eventually faded and now a retired Martinez faced the future — what to do with his life. It seemed fitting a hero on one battlefield would move to another. The enemy is now child predators.
David Thompson is the Special Agent in Charge of the Denver office of Homeland Security Investigations.
“They are going after some of the most heinous child sexual predators out there,” Thompson said. “That is a testament at Veterans Day of the caliber and character of these men and women.”
The job of the war-hardened veterans is to analyze data from hard drives, phones and other evidence seized from suspected child pornographers and others.READ MORE: Deadly Attack: Fort Collins Police Looking For Driver Of SUV Seen In Video
Martinez welcomes his new role.
“I have a 3-year-old daughter at home and there’s nothing worse than to imagine anything happening to my daughter,” he said.
It’s part of an international operation that has rescued thousands of exploited of children.
“It really fuels that fire I have inside to make it stop, and if I can make it stop, then I need to be there,” Martinez said.
From a war zone to a hospital, Martinez is back on his feet — and now the battlefield is cyberspace.NWS Warns Of Significant Flash Flood Threat For Cameron Peak Burn Scar Friday Afternoon