This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Corpus Christi Police Department's (CCPD) Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC).
Paul Pittman, 45, was sentenced Jan. 8 by U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzalez Ramos to 84 months in prison to be followed by a 15-year term of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, the court considered the need to protect the public and deter future criminal behavior by Pittman and others. He must also register as a sex offender. Pittman pleaded guilty Oct. 3 to possessing child pornography.
Pittman came to the attention of law enforcement following a complaint at a Wal-Mart store in Corpus Christi alleging that an unknown man had inappropriate contact with a girl. Pittman was identified as the suspect by witnesses to the incident, and he was arrested. At that time, his cell phone was subsequently searched, and numerous images of child pornography were discovered.
"HSI will not cease in its pursuit of those who abuse our kids regardless of whether that abuse is physical or accomplished through the exploitation of their captured images," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston.
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.