Dallas — A Mesquite, Texas, man has been charged with possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña, Northern District of Texas. The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The investigation into Samuel William Maines, 21, was initiated when law enforcement, conducting an undercover operation using file-sharing software, downloaded files containing images and videos of child pornography from an IP address assigned to Maines' mother in Mesquite, Texas.
HSI special agents executed a search warrant at the residence, seizing a home-built computer and two hard drives that were located in Maines' bedroom. Maines was arrested after a preliminary forensic examination of the equipment revealed images of child pornography.
According to the criminal complaint, after the computer equipment was seized, Maines admitted that he built the computer and that he was the only one who operated it.
A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If convicted of this offense, Maines faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. The U.S. Attorney's office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.
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-DHS-2ICE 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Sparks, Northern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.