URBANA, Ill. – Eight men were indicted on federal child pornography offenses following a joint investigative effort known as "Operation Blue Monday," announced U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois. This operation included U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), which partnered with the Urbana and Champaign, Ill., police departments, and others.
A grand jury returned indictments Dec. 19 charging two of these men, bringing the total to eight defendants charged since the multi-county undercover operation began in July. Trained through the Illinois Attorney General's Office's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, law enforcement officers use investigative software and techniques to identify internet protocol (IP) addresses that offer to trade child pornography through the Internet. After identifying the IP address, special agents continue their investigation to determine the subscriber information and gather evidence to establish probable cause and make arrests.
U.S. Attorney Lewis commended the agencies and their designated officers for their commitment to share the burden of investigation and prosecution. "In Operation Blue Monday, law enforcement came together to work on a problem that is unfortunately too common in their jurisdictions: trading child pornography on the Internet. Working together, the officers gathered more evidence, made more arrests and gave us stronger cases, truly helping to protect young people in their communities."
Additional assistance was provided by members of the East Central Illinois Cyber Crimes Working Group, which includes: the Mattoon Police Department, the University of Illinois Police Department, the Decatur Police Department, the Vermilion County Sheriff's Office, Illinois State Police, and the Illinois Secretary of State.
The eight defendants, including the two indicted Thursday by a grand jury, are charged as follows:
- Remington L. Goodenough, 21, of Edina, Minn., a student at the University of Illinois, was arrested and charged by criminal complaint Nov. 26. He was indicted Dec. 19 on one count each of trafficking, receiving and possessing child pornography. Goodenough was released to the custody of his parents as third-party custodians following his initial court appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal Nov. 28.
- Oscar Hernando Moreno Torres, 39, of Urbana, Ill., a student at the University of Illinois, is a Colombian national in the United States on a student visa. He was arrested and charged by complaint Nov. 27 and indicted Dec. 19 on one count of possessing child pornography.
- Erick Barthelemy, 27, of Champaign, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Sept. 10. He was indicted Oct. 4 on two counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography.
- Danny L. Smith, of Georgetown, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Sept. 11. He was indicted Oct. 4 on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography.
- Mu-Tsun Tsai, 27, of Champaign, Ill., a graduate student at the University of Illinois, is a Taiwanese national in the United States on a student visa. He was arrested and charged by complaint July 24 and indicted in August on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography.
- Dustin R. Underwood, 19, of Clinton, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Aug. 28. He was indicted in September on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography.
- Parrish Kappes, 46, of Tuscola, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Oct. 16. He was indicted Nov. 7 on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography.
- Zachary M. Vincent, 21, of Tuscola, Ill., was arrested and charged by complaint Oct. 16. He was indicted Nov. 7 on three counts of distributing, and one count of possessing, child pornography.
Each of the defendants, with the exception of Goodenough, has been ordered to remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service.
If convicted, the statutory penalty for each count of the offenses of distributing, trafficking and receiving child pornography, is a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison, and up to a lifetime of supervised release. For possessing child pornography, the penalty is up to 10 years in prison, and up to a lifetime of supervised release.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
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 and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.