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Child Exploitation

Florida man sentenced to 17 ½ years for distributing child pornography

Sentencing tied to Operation Holitna which has resulted in the rescue of 150 children worldwide

TAMPA, Fla. — A St. Petersburg, Fla., man was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison Tuesday for the distribution of child pornography. The sentencing resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Joshua Taylor, 29, must also serve a life-term of supervised release and register as a sex offender. According to court documents, Taylor began chatting online in November with an individual about trading child pornography. Unbeknownst to Taylor, he was chatting with an undercover law enforcement officer. Taylor sent the officer a video file depicting child pornography.

In January, HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at Taylor's residence. Agents seized more than 5,000 images and videos of child pornography. Taylor admitted ownership of the illegal images and videos. The majority of Taylor's collection depicted images of infants and toddlers. Taylor advised that he looked at the images, saved them and moved on to the next.

A forensic review of the evidence revealed that Taylor had been communicating online with a known producer of child pornography, as well as with many other individuals who collected and traded child pornography. The investigation revealed that Taylor had been collecting child pornography for more than a decade.

Taylor pleaded guilty to the charge May 15.

"Distributing child pornography is not a victimless crime," said Shane Folden, deputy special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "We cannot repair the damage done to innocents exploited for perverse pleasure, but we can continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute child predators like Taylor."

This sentencing is part of Operation Holitna, an ongoing HSI-led investigation that originated in Boston. In 2010, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts and HSI Boston arrested Robert Diduca on child pornography production charges. He was convicted and subsequently sentenced in June 2012. Forensic analysis of Diduca's computer led investigators to the Netherlands where a Dutch national was arrested and charged with production, distribution and possession of child pornography, as well as the sexual abuse of 87 minors. To date, more than 150 children have been rescued and 46 perpetrators arrested worldwide – including Taylor and another Tampa-area suspect, Ronald Brown – as a result of Operation Holitna.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.