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Child Exploitation
04/06/2012

HSI arrests USVI couple for production of child pornography

Couple was on bail for drug trafficking charges

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, couple, released on bail for possession of cocaine while attempting to board a flight to Miami, Fla., Feb. 27, were arrested again by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Thursday at their place of residence for production of child pornography.

Calib Webster, 29, and Jamhila Hodge, 23, were arrested by HSI special agents for production of child pornography after a forensic analysis of a video, received by HSI from the U.S. Virgin Islands Police Department, revealed Webster engaging in sexual intercourse with a female minor while Hodge recorded the event.

"HSI will not tolerate the exploitation of our most vulnerable members of society and will continue working with our partners in the U.S. Virgin Islands to investigate those who exploit our children and deprive them of their innocence." said Angel Meléndez, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Juan. "This case is particularly alarming as the defendants, only a few weeks earlier, had been charged with drug trafficking for which they were granted bail."

Webster and Hodge had their initial hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller Thursday and were remanded to the custody of the U.S. Marshals.

If convicted of production of child pornography charges, Webster and Hodge face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in prison per count.

On Feb. 27, Webster and Hodge were arrested when they presented themselves for pre-clearance inspection at the St. Croix airport before boarding an American Airlines flight to New York via Miami. Both passengers were traveling together but presented themselves for inspection separately.

During the inspection, CBP officers discovered a total of 21 brick-shaped objects containing a white powdery substance within Webster's checked luggage and carry-on bags and 10 additional bricks in Hodge's carry-on bag for a total of 31 bricks, with an approximate total weight of 35 kilograms. The contraband tested positive for cocaine during a field test.

The arrest of Webster and Hodge for production of child pornography is part of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children. As part of Operation Predator, 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.