HOUSTON - A U.S. citizen residing in Mexico pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of possessing child pornography before U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The investigation is being conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
David Aric Ladewig, 43, arrived on an international flight on Sept. 9, 2010 from Cancun, Mexico, where he was living and working at the time. CBP Officers conducting an inbound inspection at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston discovered that Ladewig was a match for an individual suspected of downloading and collecting child pornography.
Ladewig was transporting a laptop computer and an external hard drive upon his arrival. CBP officers asked for the items to conduct an inspection and forensic exam. Ladewig was allowed to continue to Michigan where he was visiting family.
A forensic analysis on the laptop computer conducted by ICE HSI agents determined that both the laptop and the external hard drive contained 1,439 still images and 81 videos of child pornography that had been downloaded using the Internet.
The forensic exam of the laptop revealed that Ladewig had visited certain websites and that Limewire and Frostwire, peer-to-peer file-sharing programs, were present. Ladewig was arrested in October 2010 while returning to Cancun. He has been detained in federal custody since his arrest.
Ladewig faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment at his sentencing set for Oct. 3. After he completes any prison term imposed, Ladewig also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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.