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Non-profit explains how exploitation investigations begin after arrest of Port Neches fire chief on child porn charges

Usually companies like Facebook, Google or Twitter find illegal material and report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

PORT NECHES, Texas — The Port Neches fire chief is out of jail after posting a $50,000 bond. 

He's also out of a job. His termination comes after officers arrested him on child pornography charges. 

Paul Nelson served as Port Neches fire chief for five years. The investigation started after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a tip. 

He's accused of sending illegal images on social media. 

Officers seized numerous digital devices from Nelson's home. 

Jefferson County District Attorney Bob Wortham calls it a "sad situation." 

Wortham told 12News they have "very strong evidence" in the case.

Meanwhile, the Port Neches City Manager Andre Wimer has handed over control of the fire department to assistant chief Mike Stegall.

"The department will continue to perform as it has in the past. It's an exceptional group of committed firefighters within our department that are here to serve the community," Wimer said. 

While the Texas Attorney General's child exploitation unit is leading the investigation, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children played a crucial role in the case.

Lindsey Olson works with the non-profit. She said she can't speak about this particular investigation, but can shed some light on how investigations usually begin. 

Typically, companies like Facebook, Google or Twitter find illegal material and report it to the center. 

"These companies are required by federal law to report any child pornography or any child sexual abuse material that they're aware of," Olson said. 

Olson told 12News these companies and others can report obscene material to the center's 24-hour CyberTipline. 

Once the report comes in, the center takes over. 

MORE | Access the NCME's CyberTipline 

"We are receiving this information in and we're really trying to determine a possible location of where a child may have been victimized," Olson said. 

When the center zeros in on a location, they contact local law enforcement agencies at the state and municipal levels to hand off their findings for further investigation. 

Port Neches Police Department continues to assist the Texas Attorney General's Child Exploitation Unit in the investigation. 

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