The United States had appealed Irey's sentence, arguing that only the statutory maximum of 30 years would suffice for his crime. The Court of Appeals agreed, ordering the district court to sentence Irey to 30 years' imprisonment and stating that any lesser sentence would be unreasonable given the nature of Irey's crimes.
"We applaud the decision by the Court of Appeals to extend the maximum sentencing for this particularly heinous predator, who is one of the worst of the worst criminals of this kind," said Susan McCormick, ICE special agent in charge of the Office of Homeland Security Investigations in Tampa.
According to court documents, Irey had spent years traveling to Cambodia, where he repeatedly raped and, in some instances, sexually tortured, dozens of children, some as young as four. Irey photographed these acts and posted the photos on the Internet.
The Eleventh Circuit stated, "It is difficult to find a case involving sexual abuse of children that compares to this one." The appeal was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Rhodes, Peggy Ronca, and Roberta Bodnar.
ICE special agents had seized more than 1,200 images of child pornography from Irey's computer. The pictures taken by the defendant were of numerous children performing sex acts with and on him and other children in front of a pink wall. The series of pictures of abuse became known as the "Pink Wall Series" and it was distributed worldwide over the Internet by Irey. It is estimated that he victimized more than 50 children over six years.
Until his arrest, Irey had owned and run Frank Irey Construction, Inc., an Orlando construction company.
The investigation that led to this case 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.
Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals through 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.