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Child Exploitation

Fugitive captured in Mexico arraigned on child pornography charges in Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A Bakersfield-area man, who fled to Mexico to avoid prosecution on child pornography charges stemming from a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), was arraigned in federal court Thursday following his capture south of the border earlier this month.

David Michael Wilson, 31, of Delano, pleaded not guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer K. Thurston to one count of receiving or distributing images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Wilson, who was ordered detained as a flight risk and a danger to the community, is slated to appear in federal court in Fresno May 27 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Gappa is prosecuting the case.

Based upon an outstanding arrest warrant related to his July 2013 indictment, Wilson, a U.S. citizen, had been featured on ICE's Operation Predator App. The app allows users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. The app has been downloaded more than 90,000 times since its launch in September 2013, and can be downloaded from Apple's App Store or from iTunes. Tips from the public can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In this case, someone in Mexico provided an anonymous tip that Wilson had been living in Mexicali, Mexico. He was arrested in Mexicali April 2 by Mexican law enforcement and subsequently turned over to HSI special agents in Calexico by Mexican immigration authorities. A federal magistrate in El Centro ordered that Wilson be transported to the Eastern District of California so the pending criminal case could proceed.

"This fugitive's return wouldn't have happened without a tip from the public and the outstanding collaboration between HSI and Mexican law enforcement," said Tatum King, acting special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "Speed is of the essence in the hunt for child predators, and this case demonstrates yet again, the level of international resolve to ensure that those who prey on children do not go unpunished."

This case is a product of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers; and Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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.

Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. Click on the "resources" tab for information about Internet safety.