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Child Exploitation

Tucson man sentenced to more than 24 years for child pornography production

TUCSON, Ariz. — A Tucson man who was the subject of a nationwide "John Doe" manhunt after authorities discovered child pornography videos in which he sexually abused a toddler, has been sentenced to more than 24 years in federal prison, following his January 2013 arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Lance Robert Fries, 43, was sentenced Wednesday to 297 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Jennifer G. Zipps. In addition to the prison term, Fries will be subject to lifetime supervised release with stringent conditions, including registration as a sex offender. Fries pleaded guilty in October 2013 to two counts of production of child pornography.

"This man was brought to justice in large part thanks to the media outlets who publicized his photo and a vigilant public," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "Mr. Fries thought he could hide behind a computer screen to victimize children, but his arrest and imprisonment should serve as a direct warning to others who would seek to exploit children. HSI will continue to work diligently to identify these predators and bring them out of the shadows and into the light of justice."

Fries' arrest came after HSI released photographs in January 2013 of an unidentified man, called "John Doe," who was sought in connection with a child pornography case that involved the sexual exploitation of a young boy. Less than 24 hours after appealing to the public for help finding the man, HSI special agents received a call to the ICE Tip Line identifying the suspect as Fries, who was subsequently arrested in Tucson.

Authorities were later able to identify the child victim and confirm that the boy was safe.

Fries was later indicted by a federal grand jury after evidence revealed that he had sexually abused a toddler multiple times, and broadcast the abuse to others via a webcam. Videos of the abuse were discovered in two separate child exploitation investigations involving other defendants in Oregon and Florida.

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.