PITTSBURGH – An Arizona man was sentenced today to 15 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release for engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. The sentence is the result of an extensive investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Justice.
On June 17, 2010, Dave Dean, 43, of Peoria, Ariz., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Arthur A. Schwab in Pittsburgh to one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise.
Today’s sentence was announced by ICE Director John Morton, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, Department of Justice; and U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, Western District of Pennsylvania.
“Possession of child pornography is not a victimless crime,” said ICE Director Morton. “Those who engage in this criminal behavior should be forewarned that ICE, along with our law enforcement partners, will use every tool at our disposal to end the sexual exploitation of our children and keep them safe wherever they live.”
“The members of this criminal enterprise committed the most unthinkable of crimes – they trafficked in chilling images of children and infants being brutally, sexually abused. And, they used a social networking website to distribute these images so that they could reach as many other like-minded individuals as they could,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Our children, who are the most vulnerable and innocent in our society, deserve every measure of protection we can give them. As this prosecution shows, we will use every tool we have to attack and dismantle these illegal child exploitation networks.”
“This prosecution also illustrates the ripe environment for child predators that exists though the internet. The defendants in this case found kinship online, validating their shared desire to engage in sex with children, and to seek sexual gratification through sharing horrific and degrading images of children,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton. “We must respond to this threat with the full force of federal law enforcement and its many partners across agencies, jurisdictions, state lines, and national borders. I am committed to this effort, and we will not stop until we eradicate this evil.”
According to court documents and proceedings, Dean and others distributed images and videos of children being sexually abused to other members of an international group that had restricted membership and was formed on a social networking website. Members of the group distributed to one another thousands of sexually explicit images and videos of children, many of which graphically depicted prepubescent, male children, including some infants, being sexually abused and sometimes sodomized or subjected to bondage.
Seven co-defendants have previously pleaded guilty and been sentenced to prison as a result of this investigation.
This case was investigated by ICE HSI and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig W. Haller and CEOS Trial Attorney Andrew McCormack prosecuted the case.
This investigation was 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.