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Child Exploitation

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

Defendant faces up to 30 years in federal prison

FORT WORTH, Texas - A man from Amarillo, Texas, formerly of Saginaw, Texas, pleaded guilty on Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton to a two-count indictment charging receipt and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.

Matthew J. Merideth, 34, has been in federal custody since his arrest in October 2010 on a related charge in a federal criminal complaint. Merideth faces a statutory maximum sentence of not less than five or more than 30 years in prison, and a $500,000 fine. Sentencing is set for May 23 before U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means.

According to documents filed in the case, in April 2010, the Saginaw Police Department visited the Merideth residence in Saginaw based on a lead living in the residence. Upon arriving at the residence, officers interviewed Merideth and a few days later, they executed a state search warrant for his computer. A preliminary forensic exam of the computer revealed that two child pornography videos had been recently downloaded from the Internet using a peer-to-peer file sharing program. The exam also revealed that numerous images of child pornography had been saved on Merideth's computer. According to the complaint, Merideth told investigators that he had used a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to locate and download child pornography because he was attempting to hunt down individuals preying on children. Merideth, however, told investigators that he wasn't successful, nor did he report any of this activity to law enforcement.

In October 2010, agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) visited the Meredith residence in Amarillo to execute an arrest warrant for Meredith. During a consent search of Merideth and his computer and related storage media, child pornography was discovered.

This case was investigated by ICE-HSI, the U.S. Secret Service North Texas Electronic Crimes Task Force, and the Saginaw Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex C. Lewis was in charge of the prosecution.

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.

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.