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Child Exploitation

Missouri man pleads guilty to child pornography charges

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A southwestern Missouri man pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to receiving and distributing child pornography.

This guilty plea resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force.

Rodney Russell, 41, of Joplin, Mo., pleaded guilty to the charges contained in an Oct. 3, 2012 federal indictment. In his guilty plea, Russell admitted that he received and distributed child pornography via the Internet between Oct. 4 and Dec. 21, 2011.

Under federal statutes, Russell is subject to be sentenced to five to 20 years in federal prison, plus a fine up to $250,000. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the U.S. Probation Office completes a presentence investigation. There is no parole in the federal prison system.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.

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.