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Child Exploitation
04/12/2010

ICE assists in arrest of South Florida child sex predator

MIAMI - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents assisted the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force on Friday's arrest of Christopher Thornton, 27, who was charged with child pornography possession and production.

ICE special agents and members of the ICAC Task Force executed a search warrant on April 9 at Thornton's Lauderhill, Fla., residence after Fort Lauderdale Police Department detectives had downloaded over 80 files depicting child pornography from Thornton's IP address during an undercover Internet investigation.

The search warrant resulted in the seizure of one computer. An ICE special agent in Miami conducted a preview of Thornton's computer and discovered more than 80 movies and images depicting children between the ages of four and 12-years-old engaged in sexual activity. Additionally, obscene images of two unreported child victims were located on the computer.

Thornton was arrested and charged with 25 counts of child pornography possession and production. Thornton advised investigators that he was a tutor and a football coach and that he utilized his positions to access children and had molested two children for nearly three years. Thornton also produced child pornography by photographing the genitals of these children and made it available for distribution on the Internet.

Two child victims have been identified in Delray Beach, Fla., and New York. Authorities are currently interviewing these victims and additional charges are pending.

Investigators and members of the ICAC Task Force fear that there may be additional victims. If anyone recognizes Thornton, and may have been victimized by him, they are encouraged to contact Detective Rob Mauro at 954-828-6871 or Broward County Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

Members of the Task Force include ICE, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Broward Sheriff's Office, the Attorney General's Office and the United States Secret Service.