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Child Exploitation
12/12/2011

North Dakota man pleads guilty to federal child pornography charges

FARGO, N.D. – A Hazen, N.D., man pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to receiving and possessing child pornography. The case resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and North Dakota Parole and Probation Services.

Michael Lynn Wieland, 32, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to two charges of possessing materials and five charges of receiving materials involving minors being sexually exploited. Wieland possessed more than 300,000 images of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

Each count of possessing materials involving minors being sexually exploited carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. Each count of receiving materials involving minors being sexually exploited carries a minimum penalty of 15 years imprisonment and a maximum penalty of 40 years imprisonment.

Sentencing for Wieland is scheduled for March 12 in U.S. District Court in Fargo.

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 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.