OCALA, Fla. – A federal jury found a Wildwood, Fla., man guilty on Wednesday of transporting and possessing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, and the FBI.
Aaron P. Winchester, 36, of Wildwood, faces a mandatory minimum of five years in federal prison, up to a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Winchester was indicted on Aug. 11. According to court documents, on Feb. 5, 2009, agents and officers with ICE HSI and the Sumter County Sheriff's Office executed a federal search warrant at Winchester's residence in Wildwood. ICE HSI seized a desktop computer and a laptop computer and conducted forensic examinations of the computers.
According to the evidence and testimony introduced at trial, materials found on the desktop computer included approximately 400 images that constituted child pornography, and included approximately 60 videos containing child pornography. Chat logs found on the computer included discussions of sexual abuse of young children, and included instances where pictures of children being sexually abused were exchanged over the Internet.
One particular chat log found on Winchester's computer, and the child pornography that was sent during that chat, were also found on a computer seized in another investigation that took place in Connecticut and New York.
The investigation was 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 whose crimes make them deportable.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE and 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.