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Child Exploitation

Former Bakersfield-area man featured on ICE's Operation Predator smartphone app captured in Mexico

Michael David Wilson
Michael David Wilson

EL CENTRO, Calif. — A former Bakersfield-area man, who absconded in the wake of his 2013 indictment on federal child pornography charges, is being held in the Imperial County Jail after his capture earlier this week by law enforcement authorities in Mexico.

Michael David Wilson, 30, whose case was featured on U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Operation Predator smartphone app to seek fugitive and unknown child predator suspects, was arrested late Wednesday night in Mexicali, Mex. His capture came after a resident of Mexico alerted authorities at the Calexico port of entry about the fugitive's possible whereabouts. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) attaché in Tijuana relayed the information to Mexico's National Institute of Migration (INM), and INM alerted local authorities, who took Wilson into custody. Hours later, the onetime fugitive was deported by Mexico and handed over to U.S. law enforcement.

Wilson was indicted in July 2013 for receiving and distributing child pornography and a warrant was issued for his arrest. According to the charges stemming from the HSI probe, the former office worker received and distributed child pornography over the Internet from about Sept. 3, 2012, through approximately April 25, 2013. At that time, Wilson was residing in Delano.

Shortly after his indictment, investigators believe Wilson fled to Mexico. After efforts to locate him were unsuccessful, Wilson's mug shot, along with his biographical information, were posted on ICE's Operation Predator App. Tips from the public can be reported anonymously through the app, by phone or online, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Once again, a tip from the public has proven to be a turning point in a challenging case," said Clark Settles, special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "This case is also another stellar example of our cooperation with Mexican law enforcement and a reminder that we will not allow our borders to be barriers to bringing dangerous criminals to justice."

ICE's Operation Predator App allows users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to HSI by calling or submitting an online tip. Additionally, the app allows users to view news about the arrest and prosecution of child predators and obtain information about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

ICE's Operation Predator App was launched in September 2013 and has since been downloaded more than 89,000 times. This year it was nominated as one of eight finalists for "Best App" in the PR News' 2014 Social Media Icon Awards.

This smartphone app is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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.