Travis S. Cook, 37, of Kansas City, Mo., was sentenced in the Western District of Missouri to 120 months in federal prison without parole.
In February 2008, ICE agents began investigating an internet forum with hundreds of members dedicated to distributing child pornography. Cook, who pleaded guilty in March, was a member of the forum and posted comments there, including "I wish that 11-year-old girls could work at strip clubs."
When ICE agents contacted Cook at his apartment on March 13, 2009, he shut the door and refused to talk to the agents or allow them to look at his laptop or enter his apartment. After the ICE agents went downstairs to call and ask about obtaining a search warrant, one of the agents returned to Cook's apartment to ensure that he did not leave the apartment with the laptop.
Upon entering the hallway outside Cook's apartment, the ICE agent heard popping sounds as though CDs were breaking in half, and other sounds consistent with items being destroyed, coming from inside Cook's apartment. The ICE agent repeatedly knocked at Cook's door and asked him to open the door, but Cook did not respond. The agent found a maintenance man from the apartment complex who opened the door to Cook's apartment.
ICE agents noticed numerous papers and CD ROM disks strewn about the floor of the apartment, and saw that the laptop's monitor had been torn off its hinges. One agent noticed that something was burning in a skillet on the stove, which turned out to be the laptop's melting RAM memory card.
ICE agents seized 59 CDs and 13 DVDs containing images and movies of child pornography from Cook's apartment. Agents also recovered a small black backpack from a bathroom closet that contained 70 to 80 destroyed CD ROM disks; some of those disks contained handwritten notations of common child pornography series. The backpack also contained printed images of child pornography and printed pages of erotic stories of sex with children; both had been ripped up. Investigators also found evidence of child pornography on Cook's laptop computer.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Phillips, Western District of Missouri, prosecuted this case.
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 12,800 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.