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Child Exploitation
06/23/2014

Maryland man sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually exploiting a minor to produce pornography

GREENBELT, Md. — A 24-year-old Maryland man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, followed by supervised release for life for sexually exploiting a minor to produce child pornography. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore, the Calvert County Sheriff's Office, the Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Calvert County State's Attorney's Office.

David Wayne Sweet Jr., of St. Leonard, must also register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

According to the plea agreement, on Sept.19, the Calvert County Sheriff's Drug Enforcement Unit executed a search warrant at Sweet's residence based on alleged drug violations. Sweet's cell phone was seized which contained 24 sexually explicit images of a prepubescent girl taken between June and September 2013. Sweet had deleted the pictures, but law enforcement officials were able to recover them. Law enforcement arrested him Sept. 27. Sweet admitted he inappropriately touched the victim while she was sleeping and took the photos.

On April 16, Sweet pleaded guilty to a second degree sex offense in Calvert County Circuit Court. His sentencing in the state case is scheduled for July 11.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.