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Child Exploitation
09/14/2009

ICE arrests west Texas man on child pornography charges

ODESSA, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents on Friday arrested a local man who allegedly took pornographic pictures of a child.

ICE agents arrested John Christopher Brunson, 33, and charged him with producing child pornography. On September 3, special agents assigned to the ICE office in Midland, Texas, and Ector County sheriff's deputies executed a federal search warrant at Brunson's home in Odessa. Agents seized computers, cameras, storage media and other items.

An initial forensics analysis of a seized laptop computer discovered child pornography. According to a criminal complaint, several of the images appear to have been taken at Brunson's home.

Special agents developed information they received last month from the ICE Office of International Affairs in Vancouver, Canada, that led to Brunson's arrest. A citizen reported to Canadian authorities that a man in an Internet chat room said he engaged in sexual acts with a toddler.

"Protecting children from predators and others who exploit them is an important ICE mission," said Manuel Oyola-Torres, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso. "ICE will continue to use its unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children."

Brunson had an initial hearing in federal court September 14. His detention hearing is set for 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. If convicted, Brunson faces between 15 and 30 years in prison.

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 July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals nationwide. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity to its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. 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.