KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A local man accused of sexually exploiting a 2-year-old girl to produce child pornography was arrested and charged in federal court on Thursday. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Larry Howard, 41, of Olathe, Kan., was arrested March 18 and charged in the District of Kansas with producing child pornography.
According to the criminal complaint, Howard allegedly took sexually explicit photos of a 2-year-old girl and traded those images over the Internet to obtain more child pornography. The investigation began in September 2009 when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) received a tip that a man in Australia had uploaded child pornography to a website. The Australian Capital Territory Police identified an Australian man, Troy White, as the user who posted the photos. White is currently facing child pornography charges in Australia.
Investigators learned White had been producing child pornography and trading files via the Internet with other child pornography producers around the world. Among White's contacts was an individual in the United States who used the alias "Blyndman68." Australian Federal Police shared the information with ICE agents, who followed the electronic trail to Howard.
On March 18, ICE agents served a federal search warrant at Howard's home, resulting in his arrest. ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Olathe Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.
"Sexually exploiting children is a crime that has traumatic effects on the most vulnerable members of our society," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago "ICE and its law enforcement partners work tirelessly to investigate child predators who seek to sexually exploit innocent children."
If convicted, Howard faces a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in federal prison, and a fine up to $250,000. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Marin, District of Kansas, is prosecuting the case.
In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The indictments filed merely contain allegations of criminal conduct.
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 12,000 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.