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Child Exploitation

Amarillo, Texas, resident sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on child pornography convictions

FORT WORTH, Texas — An Amarillo, Texas, man was sentenced on Monday by U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means to 20 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release, following his guilty plea in February 2011 for receiving and possessing child pornography. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service North Texas Electronic Crimes Task Force, and the Saginaw Police Department.

Matthew J. Merideth, 34, of Amarillo, Texas, formerly of Saginaw, Texas, has been in federal custody since his arrest in October 2010 on a related charge in a federal criminal complaint.

According to documents filed in the case, in April 2010, the Saginaw Police Department visited the Merideth residence in Saginaw based on a lead who lived in the residence. Upon arriving at the residence, officers interviewed Merideth. A few days later, they executed a state search warrant for his computer. A preliminary forensic exam of the computer revealed that two child pornography videos had been recently downloaded from the Internet using a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. The exam also revealed that numerous images of child pornography had been saved on his computer. According to the complaint, Merideth told investigators that he had used a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to locate and download child pornography because he was attempting to hunt down individuals preying on children. Merideth, however, told investigators that he wasn't successful, nor did he report any of this activity to law enforcement.

In October 2010, ICE HSI agents visited the Merideth residence in Amarillo to execute an arrest warrant for Merideth. During a consent search of Merideth and his computer and related storage media, child pornography was discovered.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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.