This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in coordination with Converse (Texas) Police Department.
In addition to the 240-month prison sentence, the judge also ordered Peter Abraham Groce, 25, of Converse to serve a lifetime of supervised release. Groce pleaded guilty to the charges Oct. 17.
"This 20-year sentence sends a clear message that anyone who sexually exploits children will face serious legal consequences," said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. "Preventing and investigating crimes against children is a high priority for HSI. We will continue to dedicate law enforcement resources to identify and bring to justice child predators who traumatize and victimize children."
According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 9, 2012, HSI special agents received information from the Converse Police Department regarding an individual who had twice been arrested for indecency with a child. At that time, local police turned over state’s evidence seized from Groce’s home, which included a computer, a disk drive and several compact diskettes. HSI forensically analyzed those items which revealed multiple images and videos of child pornography. HSI special agents arrested Groce Nov. 1, 2012 without incident.
This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.
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.