Terrence John McGovern, Jr., 62, formerly of Burlingame, Calif., was taken into custody Thursday night by agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as he stepped off a commercial flight arriving from Mexico City. McGovern's return comes in the wake of his arrest earlier Thursday by Mexican immigration authorities in Puerto Escondido, who took him into custody on immigration violations.
McGovern, who was living in Mexico at the time of his arrest, is charged in a two-count indictment handed down by a grand jury in Los Angeles with transporting and possessing child pornography.
McGovern initially came under suspicion after his Internet protocol address surfaced as part of a child pornography investigation initiated by authorities in Switzerland. Based upon that lead, in June 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers referred McGovern for a secondary search when he arrived at LAX on a visit from Mexico. A preliminary examination by ICE HSI agents of a laptop computer and other computer media found in McGovern's possession revealed videos and still images of minors engaged in sexual acts. According to the indictment, a more thorough forensic analysis of those items ultimately identified approximately 2,100 images and 52 videos involving child pornography.
"As this case shows, those who engage in crimes involving the sexual exploitation of minors cannot escape justice by traveling beyond our borders," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for ICE HSI in Los Angeles. "This defendant's arrest is a direct result of the extraordinary cooperation we receive from our law enforcement counterparts in Mexico and shows our shared resolve to protect citizens of both nations from those who commit crimes against children."
"The result today is possible because of the successful collaboration between all agencies involved in forming a united front against international sexual predators," said Todd C. Owen, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Director of Field Operations in Los Angeles. "At the same time this case underscores the exceptional dedication and vigilance of CBP frontline officers."
In addition to CBP, ICE HSI agents in Los Angeles received substantial assistance with the investigation from intelligence and cyber-crime specialists with the Mexican federal police, as well as from ICE's attaché office in Mexico City and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The charges are part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children.As part of 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 or 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.