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Child Exploitation

Canadian extradited to US on charges of child sex tourism

WASHINGTON - A Canadian, who was arrested in the United Kingdom last December on U.S. sex tourism charges, was extradited and arrived in New Jersey on July 20.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated this case of international child exploitation.

John Wrenshall, 62, is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service and is scheduled for an initial appearance Tuesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Falk.  Wrenshall fought extradition from the United Kingdom following his arrest at Heathrow Airport by London's Metropolitan Police Service with ICE agents.

A grand jury in the District of New Jersey returned the indictment against Wrenshall on Aug. 25, 2008.  Wrenshall is charged with one count of conspiracy to engage in sex tourism, two counts of aiding and abetting sex tourism, one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography, seven counts of producing child pornography, and seven counts of distributing child pornography.  If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison for each count of sex tourism, a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years in prison for each count of producing child pornography, and up to 15 years in prison for distributing child pornography.  He also faces a fine of up to $250,000 per count.

According to the indictment, Wrenshall had ready access to Thai boys, some as young as four years old, at his Thailand home.  From at least as early as May 2000, Wrenshall helped arrange trips to his home during which U.S. citizens and others paid Wrenshall money to engage in oral sex and other sexual acts with the children, sometimes for weeks at a time. Wrenshall's customers were allowed to videotape and photograph their abuse.

The U.S. government will ask that Wrenshall be detained pending trial.

Three of Wrenshall's U.S. customers - Burgess Lee Burgess, Mitchell Kent Jackson and Wayne Nelson Corliss - have already pleaded guilty to sex tourism and other charges.

On Nov. 13, 2008, in the Southern District of Alabama, Burgess, 44, and Jackson, 31, admitted that they traveled to Thailand between 2000 and 2002.  According to their pleas, Burgess and Jackson traveled with the intent to sexually abuse children, paid for access to children, and sexually abused children. 

On Oct. 28, 2008, in the District of New Jersey, Corliss, 59, admitted that he traveled to Thailand each year from 2000 to 2002.  Corliss indicated he traveled with the intent to sexually abuse children, paid for access to children, brought items to facilitate their sexual abuse, and sexually abused children.  Corliss also admitted to sexually abusing children in 2002 in Thailand for the purpose of photographing and videotaping the activity.  In addition, Corliss admitted to storing and possessing images of child pornography on his home computers at the time of his arrest in 2008.  Corliss is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

According to plea documents, Burgess and Jackson, in preparation for their travel to Thailand, corresponded with Corliss.  Burgess, Jackson, Corliss and Wrenshall were all members of an Internet chat group dedicated to men with a sexual interest in minor boys.

Corliss was identified in May 2008 after INTERPOL released his photo to media outlets in the United States and abroad, and made a global appeal for information that could identify the offender depicted in the photo.  The image had been cropped from photos depicting him sexually abusing young children in Southeast Asia.  Within 48 hours, information was obtained from individuals who recognized the offender as Corliss.  ICE agents, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey, and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), located and arrested Corliss.

The May release of Corliss's photo represented the second time that INTERPOL has made a public appeal to identify a suspected child predator.  INTERPOL and ICE are partners in the Virtual Global Task Force, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies committed to joint, international enforcement efforts designed to protect children from sexual predators around the world.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee Vartan, District of New Jersey, and CEOS Trial Attorney Michael Yoon.

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 11,600 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.