The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Washington, D.C.
On Sept. 20, Hashime was convicted at trial of three counts of child pornography production. On Sept. 12, Hashime pleaded guilty to possessing and receiving child pornography.
According to court documents and evidence at the trial, the HSI investigation into Hashime began after he distributed images of child pornography to an undercover special agent via e-mail. After executing a search warrant on Hashime's e-mail account, law enforcement recovered numerous e-mails where Hashime pretended to be an attractive young female named "Tracy" while communicating with minor boys throughout the country that he met on the Internet. While acting as "Tracy," Hashime flirted, developed intimate friendships, engaged in explicit online conversation with them, and – often over the course of months – requested, cajoled, seduced, guilted and encouraged them to take and send pictures of their naked bodies and genitalia. After obtaining several images of boys' genitalia, Hashime then distributed several of the images to others online.
When HSI special agents executed a search warrant on Hashime's residence, he admitted to being "Tracy" online.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood and information about Internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE 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 (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander T.H. Nguyen and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Maureen C. Cain.