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Child Exploitation
07/31/2013

Final 2 in custody sentenced for largest child pornography case in US history

SHREVEPORT, La. — The final two defendants, of those arrested thus far, in the Dreamboard child exploitation and child pornography ring were sentenced to federal prison Monday. The prison sentences follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with dozens of other law enforcement agencies, as part of Operation Delego, an ongoing investigation launched in December 2009 targeting Dreamboard members around the world. This case represents the largest child pornography bulletin board prosecution in U.S. history.

Christopher Blackford, 28, of Charleston, S.C., was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison Monday before U.S. District Court Judge S. Maurice Hicks in the Western District of Louisiana. In addition to his prison sentence, Blackford faces a lifetime of supervised release. Blackford admitted in his April guilty plea that he joined Dreamboard in December 2009 and contributed 84 posts to the online bulletin board that contained child pornography.

William Davis, 39, of Bristol, N.H., was sentenced to more than 17 years in federal prison in addition to a lifetime of supervised release. Davis admitted in his April guilty plea that he posted advertisements offering to distribute child pornography to other members of the board.

"Investigating and apprehending the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes against children is one of our highest priorities," said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. "HSI will continue to work with its law enforcement partners to identify other predators and bring these criminals to justice."

Parmer oversees a five-state region including Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Forty-eight individuals have now been sentenced for their roles in Dreamboard, which produced and disseminated depictions of graphic child sexual abuse via the Internet. Thus far, Dreamboard members have been sentenced to a combined total of 983 years in prison in addition to three life sentences.

Dreamboard was a members-only, online bulletin board created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of young children in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection.

According to court documents, Dreamboard members traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting children. Prospective members had to create and share child pornography to gain entry into the group and to maintain membership once accepted. Dreamboard members employed a variety of measures designed to conceal their criminal activity from detection by law enforcement. Members communicated using aliases rather than their actual names, and content posted on Dreamboard was encrypted with a password shared only with other members. Members also employed proxy servers to route the group's Internet traffic through other computers in an attempt prevent law enforcement from tracing Internet activity.

A total of 72 individuals, including Blackford and Davis, were charged as a result of Operation Delego. To date, 57 of the 72 indicted have been arrested in the United States and abroad, 47 defendants have pleaded guilty for their roles in the conspiracy and an additional defendant was convicted after trial. Sentences for each convicted defendant range from five years to life in federal prison. Fifteen defendants remain at-large and are known only by their online identities. HSI continues to investigate the case in an effort to identify and apprehend these remaining individuals.

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.