Craig Aleo pleaded guilty to producing, transporting and possessing child pornography before U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Detroit.
The information presented to the court during the plea established that on March 26, 2009, Aleo, en route to New York via Canada, was found with a computer containing a portion of his child pornography collection. A warrant executed at Aleo's home revealed a conglomeration of sexually explicit video footage Aleo filmed of his 4-year-old victim.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of being sexually exploited," said Brian Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. "ICE will relentlessly pursue anyone who physically abuses or sexually exploits our most vulnerable asset, our children."
Producing child pornography is punishable by a statutorily mandated minimum sentence of 15 years, and a maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment; transporting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 20 years in prison; possessing child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Each statute carries a fine of up to $250,000.
Aleo's sentencing is scheduled for April 20.
This investigation is 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
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.
U.S. Attorney McQuade noted that this case is being prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov.