BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A Connecticut man pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of possession of child pornography in a case investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the European Law Enforcement Agency (EUROPOL) and the Dutch National Police.
James Leonard Key, 39, of Mansfield, Conn., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Holly B. Fitzsimmons in Bridgeport where he admitted guilt in a case that began two years ago when Key caught the attention of investigators in the U.S. and abroad.
According to court records, in August 2009, an Internet Protocol (IP) address belonging to Key accessed a web site in the Netherlands and downloaded at least one image of child pornography. In October 2010, ICE HSI special agents interviewed Key at his residence, where he admitted that he had knowingly downloaded images and videos of child pornography. Key surrendered two laptop computers and an external hard drive to ICE HSI agents.
Key was arrested on Oct. 26, 2010, after forensic examination of the computers and hard drive revealed more than 100 images and 20 videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Key is scheduled to be sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Warren W. Eginton on Nov. 9, 2011. He faces a maximum 10-year prison term and a fine of up to $250,000.
Since his arrest, Key has been released on $100,000 bond which is co-signed by family members. He is also being electronically monitored by the U.S. Probation Office pending the outcome of this case.
The Cyber Crimes Center (C3) Child Exploitation Section (CES) provided support for this investigation. The center investigates the trans-border large scale production and distribution of images of child abuse, as well as individuals who travel abroad to engage in sex with minors. The CES employs the latest technology to collect evidence and track the activities of individuals and organized groups who sexually exploit children through the use of websites, chat rooms, newsgroups and peer-to-peer trading.
ICE targets and investigates child pornographers through Operation Predator, an initiative to identify, investigate and arrest child predators and sexual offenders. Operation Predator draws on ICE's unique investigative and enforcement authorities to safeguard children.
Coordinated nationally and internationally, Operation Predator brings together an array of ICE disciplines and resources to target these child sex abusers.
ICE is also a founding member of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT), one of the world's largest international child protection taskforces. The VGT brings together law enforcement agencies to stop the sexual exploitation of children - both online and offline - anywhere in the world. ICE's close working relationship with VGT members has been crucial to the success of many investigations.
In addition to ICE, the VGT consists of EUROPOL (27 European Union member states), Australian Federal Police, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (UK), the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), the Italian Postal and Communication Police Service, INTERPOL, the Ministry of Interior for the United Arab Emirates and the New Zealand Police. By partaking in the taskforce, members promise their commitment to cooperate with other VGT countries across international borders to tackle online child sexual exploitation crimes on a global scale.