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Child Exploitation

Convicted drug trafficker sentenced to 10 years for possession of child pornography

ORLANDO, Fla. – A convicted drug trafficker was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The sentence will be served consecutively with a 10-year sentence the man is already serving for a drug trafficking offense.

According to court documents, on March 23, 2009, law enforcement officers arrested Mark James Williams, 66, of Tavares, for smuggling cocaine into the United States after taking a cruise to Costa Rica. On Oct. 23, 2009, in proceedings before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Williams was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.

On that same date, during the same proceedings, he was sentenced to 2 ½ years in federal prison for failing to register as a sex offender. He served that sentence concurrently with the drug trafficking sentence.

After Williams’ conviction, federal authorities learned he also possessed child pornography in the Middle District of Florida. He was charged and convicted for possessing child pornography, which he attempted to delete from his computer the day before he left for the cruise to Costa Rica.

Williams pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography Aug. 13.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.