Dale Wray Fulford, of Slaton, Texas, faces a statutory penalty of not less than 15 years or more than 30 years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine. Judge Cummings ordered a presentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be set after that report is completed.
U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas announced the guilty plea. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Lubbock County Sheriff's Office investigated this case.
Fulford, who is in custody, admitted that between February 2013 and early February 2014, he used, persuaded, induced and enticed a girl under age 18 to engage in sexually explicit conduct that he recorded on a digital camera.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas, is in charge of the prosecution.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.