BALTIMORE — A Maryland man was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison for distributing images of child pornography. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Justin Stevens, 31, was also ordered to serve 25 years of supervised release and register as a sex offender.
According to court records, after a computer chat with Stevens, an undercover HSI special agent downloaded 11 files depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct from Stevens' computer utilizing file sharing software. After reviewing the downloaded files, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issued a report indicating that three of the files depicted at least one child previously identified by law enforcement as being a victim of child exploitation.
A search warrant was obtained for Stevens' residence Jan. 30, 2013, and a computer, multiple external hard drives and other digital media were seized. A forensic examination of the computer and one of the hard drives recovered over 600 images of child pornography, including numerous images documenting the sexual abuse of prepubescent children. Also observed in plain sight during the execution of the search warrant was drug paraphernalia, drug packaging and drugs, which were tested and determined to be methamphetamine.
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 the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of 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.
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.