Mark Armstrong, 40, of Scottsburg, Ind., was sentenced Nov. 23 to 900 months in federal prison. U.S. District Chief Judge David F. Hamilton, Southern District of Indiana, handed down the sentence after Hamilton pleaded guilty to three counts of producing child pornography. Armstrong will not be eligible for release for more than 62 years.
The investigation into Armstrong began in March after an ICE agent met with South African law enforcement agents who were conducting a child pornography investigation. South African investigators had received information about three individuals exchanging e-mails containing images of minor children engaging in sexually explicit conduct with adults. It was believed that one of the individuals lived in the United States and was sexually abusing a young boy.
Further investigation confirmed that the e-mail address belonged to Armstrong in Scottsburg, Ind. On April 2, ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at Armstrong's residence. Armstrong waived his rights and told investigators he was molesting John Doe 1, a minor male relative younger than 12 years of age. He further admitted producing and disseminating images of the boy engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Armstrong also admitted producing a pornographic image of John Doe 2, another minor male relative younger than 12 years of age.
Armstrong admitted to producing the images with a digital camera and sending them to individuals he had met online in exchange for nude images of other minors. Armstrong recalled sending sexually explicit images of John Doe 1 to individuals in South Africa and in Mexico. Armstrong stated that he produced about 50 images of sexually explicit conduct involving John Does 1 and 2. ICE agents arrested Armstrong the day of the search and he remained in custody while the case was pending in federal court.
ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Fishers (Indiana) Police Department, Indiana State Police, the Hamilton County (Indiana) Metro Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the FBI.
"All children have the right to grow up free from sexual abuse and exploitation," said Daniel Dill, resident agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Indianapolis. "We will use all our investigative authorities to give these abused children a voice and ensure that justice is served."
Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Brant Cook, Southern District of Indiana, is prosecuting the case.
This case is being investigated as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals under Operation Predator.
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. 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.