HOUSTON – A local man pleaded guilty Friday to producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.
This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Westbrook (Maine) Police Department.
The investigation into Daniel M. Layne, 33, began in Maine when the mother of a 14-year-old girl discovered a motel key card in her daughter’s pants pocket and sexually graphic text messages on her cellphone. She contacted local authorities who then determined that Layne had traveled to Maine after meeting the girl over the Internet. The investigation revealed Layne had taken sexually explicit photos of the girl.
"This case shows the great lengths sexual child predators will go to achieve their disturbing goals," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "HSI and our partners will go to even greater lengths to stop them."
Information gathered in Maine led authorities in the Houston area to execute a search warrant at Layne’s residence Sept. 24, 2013. The search resulted in the seizure of computers, a computer tablet and cell phones from the house. A forensic analysis revealed images of the 14-year-old on the tablet and a cellphone.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who accepted the guilty plea Feb. 14, has set sentencing for May 13, at which time Layne faces at least 15 and up to 30 years imprisonment, and a $250,000 maximum fine. Layne also faces a maximum of life on supervised release after he completes his prison sentence, during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet. Layne was arrested on the federal charges in October 2013; he has been in custody since that time where he will remain pending his sentencing.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.
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.