This indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, District of Colorado, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Kumar Kibble.
The federal grand jury indictment was handed down in August. Justin Craig Smith, 32, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who was on bond from state charges since December 2012, made his initial appearance in federal court Oct. 11, 2013. He was ordered held without bond after a hotly contested hearing Oct. 17. On that date he was also arraigned.
According to the indictment, as well as a proffer given by the government in open court during the detention hearing, from July 2010 through April 2011, Smith attempted and did use two minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography. On May 7, 2012, Smith allegedly knowingly distributed and attempted to distribute child pornography. Lastly, on Dec. 5, 2012, he was found possessing child pornography.
In December 2012, local law enforcement executed a search warrant at Smith's Colorado Springs residence after an investigation revealed that he was using a peer-to-peer system to share child pornography. During the subsequent investigation, it was determined that Smith had photographed his sexual assault of an 8-year-old child, and for years he had taken lascivious photographs of another child who is now 12 years old. Smith also made his young victims watch videotapes of child pornography. Further forensic evaluation of Smith's computer not only uncovered the images of his sexually molesting children, it also contained one of the largest collections of toddler videos that the forensic analyst had ever seen.
After the December 2012 search warrant was executed, Smith was arrested by the Colorado Springs Police on state charges of molestation. That case is pending.
"Mr. Smith engaged in the sexual assault and exploitation of two young children to produce child pornography," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "This case should send a strong message to those who sexually prey on our children that they will get caught and they will be punished."
"Only those predators who produce child pornography really know what perverted logic they use to rationalize the horrific trauma they permanently inflict on innocent children," said Kumar C. Kibble, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "However, our special agents with Homeland Security Investigations derive great satisfaction from rescuing these children from their living nightmare, and pursuing prosecution against their victimizers."
If convicted of sexually exploiting children, Smith faces not less than 15 years, and not more than 30 years in federal prison, as well as a fine of not more than $250,000, per count for each of the two counts. If convicted of distributing child pornography, Smith faces not less than five years, and not more than 20 years in federal prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000. If convicted of possessing child pornography, Smith faces not more than 10 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with cooperation from the Colorado Springs Police Department, and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).
Smith is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Valeria Spencer, District of Colorado.
The charges contained in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
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.