ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A 75-year-old man was arrested today after being indicted by a federal grand jury on a single count of possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Neil Cary Applequist, of Wasilla, Alaska, was indicted on November 19, 2009, and made his initial appearance in federal court earlier this afternoon. ICE agents served a federal search warrant on his residence in March 2009.
According to court documents, Applequist possessed pictures of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and had them stored on a removable computer storage disk. The illegal images were transported across state and international borders in violation of federal customs laws.
"Today's arrest shows that no one is above the law," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigations in Alaska. "ICE will continue to dedicate its resources to identify and investigate individuals who sexually exploit children in this manner."
Federal statue provides for a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, three years of supervised release and up to a $250,000 fine for this crime. An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.
This case is being investigated as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators who crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals under Operation Predator.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.