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Child Exploitation

Southeast Texas man sentenced to 28 years in prison for receiving child pornography

VICTORIA, Texas – A southeast Texas man was sentenced to 28 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (CCPD-ICAC), with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service.

James Leland Copeland, 42, from Hallettsville, Texas, was sentenced to 336 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa. Copeland was further ordered to serve the rest of his life on supervised release after he completes his prison term. In handing down the sentence, Costa noted Copeland’s recidivism and substantially greater role in the offense than the average child pornography recipient. Costa determined that Copeland, while not directly producing the child pornography he received himself, he nonetheless played a significant role in causing it to be produced. Copeland will also be required to register as a sex offender. He pleaded guilty to the charges May 10, 2013.

"It is incomprehensible how any person could be part of the sexual abuse and exploitation of an infant," said Brian M. Moskowitz. "Thanks to the great collaborative work of those involved in this case, Mr. Copeland will be out of the reach of any child for nearly three decades."

Copeland was a wanted person from Tennessee for failing to register as a sex offender. He had been previously convicted of possessing child pornography in the Eastern District of Tennessee in 2004 and sentenced to 51 months in the Bureau of Prisons. Marshals Service officials determined Copeland was living in Hallettsville and had failed to register within the state of Texas.

As a result of a federal arrest and search warrant, authorities searched Copeland’s residence Dec. 18, 2012, at which time several electronic storage devices and other written media were seized from the home. CCPD-ICAC forensically examined the electronic storage devices which led to the discovery of several images of child pornography. An examination of the written media revealed it to be the transcription of emails and other Internet-based communications between Copeland and various persons on the Internet.

Some of the discovered correspondence was with a person calling herself "Ms. Majesty," who was later identified as Desiree Lee Padilla, of Brownsville. The communications between the two were primarily sexual in nature and discussed their mutual sexual attraction to children. Padilla sent several pictures of child pornography wherein she sexually assaulted an infant female relative.

Padilla was prosecuted by state authorities for aggravated sexual assault of a child and subsequently sentenced to 25 years imprisonment Sept. 11, 2013.

Copeland will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

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.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.