Joseph Marshall Montross, 30, was sentenced to 360 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Sim Lake. The judge also imposed a $5,000 fine, and Montross was ordered to serve a lifetime of supervised release, and to register as a sex offender. He is prohibited from accessing the Internet or visiting/attending any place where children under the age of 18 congregate for the duration of his term of supervised release. Montross has been in federal custody without bond since his arrest in June 2009 and will remain in custody through his sentence.
The ICE investigation began in February 2008 when ICE Houston was contacted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) Office of Internal Affairs concerning Montross. Montross had applied for employment with CBP and took a polygraph test in Dallas. During the polygraph interview, Montross admitted to possessing child pornography on his computer at home in Houston. On the same date, Houston ICE agents went to Montross' residence and seized a laptop computer and some external hard drives.
ICE agents conducted a forensic analysis of the laptop which revealed child pornography videos that appeared to be made by Montross. Based on this information, ICE agents returned to Montross' residence in July 2008, and searched for additional computers and equipment. Most of the images and videos were found on external computer hard drives. Montross admitted to federal agents that he made 10 videos. Agents seized about 9,000 images and 107 videos, most of which had been downloaded via the Internet. The images included prepubescent girls in sexually explicit scenes of bondage, penetration, oral sex and masturbation.
The images and videos were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) where over 40 victims were identified in the images found on Montross' computer equipment.
This investigation was 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.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert Stabe, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.