Blayne T. Hulbert pleaded guilty in May to the federal charges. According to court documents, HSI special agents in Los Angeles first came across Hulbert while investigating the distribution of child pornography on a Russian image hosting website. During the course of the investigation, undercover special agents received a video depicting child sexual abuse from a user with the screen name "kiddgrimm," which they were able to link to Hulbert.
HSI Seattle and ICAC Task Force investigators searched Hulbert's part-time residences in Monroe and Bellevue in November 2011. A laptop computer and digital storage media were seized from the Bellevue location. A forensic exam of Hulbert's computer equipment found thousands of images of child exploitation, including some of violent sexual abuse. When he was arrested, Hulbert admitted to HSI special agents that he was already the subject of a child molestation investigation by local authorities.
In addition to the federal charges, Washington state authorities charged Hulbert with child molestation. He was subsequently convicted and sentenced in August to 67 months in state prison.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Hulbert will begin serving his federal sentence at the conclusion of his state sentence. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour agreed to the joint sentencing recommendation, and included a lifetime term of supervised release and the requirement that Hulbert register as a sex offender.
The case was prosecuted by an ICE attorney specially designated by the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington to prosecute cases in federal court.
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). Child sexual exploitation may also be reported using an online resource.
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.