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Child Exploitation

Amarillo, Texas, man pleads guilty to federal child pornography charges

AMARILLO, Texas - A local man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. The case was investigated by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Michael Ansley Twing, 32, of Amarillo, Texas, was arrested early last month on an indictment charging one count each of receiving and possessing child pornography, but he was released on bond. He faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release; a sentencing date was not set.

According to documents filed, in April 2006, when ICE was investigating a criminal organization operating a commercial child pornography website known as "Home Collection," Michael Twing was identified as a subscriber.

In November 2009, Twing was again identified in a national investigation as a subscriber to a members-only restricted child pornography website. An analysis of payment records revealed that on April 7, 2009, Twing attempted to enter his credit card number to gain access to that website. The investigation confirmed that the personal identifying information belonged to Twing and the required payment information for access to the website was correct. However, Twing entered the wrong last digit of his credit card and consequently the charge for access to that child pornography site could not be processed.

In February 2010, a federal search warrant was executed at Twing's residence and agents seized a laptop computer, a desktop computer, floppy disc, assorted DVDs and other materials. A forensic exam of the equipment revealed about 100 images of child pornography and seven videos of child pornography, with most of the images involving a prepubescent minor, and some involving sadistic or masochistic conduct.

This investigation is 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.

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.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy Drake of the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Texas, in Amarillo.