KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A local man has been charged with producing child pornography in a criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court. The charge resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), working in cooperation with the Johnson County Sheriff's Department and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
Michael D. Arnett, 38 of Roeland Park, Kan., is charged with one count of producing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.
The complaint alleges the investigation began when HSI Boston agents asked NCMEC to help identify victims who appeared in previously seized images of child pornography.
Investigators identified a water bottle in one of the photographs with the name of a swim and scuba center in Johnson County, Kan. With the help of teachers at an elementary school in that county, investigators identified the children in the photographs.
On May 15 investigators served a search warrant at Arnett's home in Roeland Park, a southwestern suburb of Kansas City, Kan., seizing computers that contained images of child pornography.
"The arrest of Michael Arnett should serve as a stern warning to child sexual predators who mistakenly believe they can anonymously prey on innocent children," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of ICE HSI in Chicago. "Our HSI agents worked tirelessly across jurisdictions and used the latest forensic techniques to track down this child predator and protect the victims involved. All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of being sexually exploited."
If convicted, Arnett faces imprisonment of not less than 15 up to 30 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of producing child pornography, and a maximum penalty of 10 years and a fine up to $250,000 on the charge of possessing child pornography.
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. ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE 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.