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November 6, 2013Salt Lake City, UT, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI child exploitation investigation leads to arrest of Canadian man

SALT LAKE CITY – A Canadian man is in custody in Canada and faces multiple child exploitation charges, following an investigation by Salt Lake City-based special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Canadian authorities announced Wednesday that Lee David Hughes, 32, of Stratford, Ontario, was arrested and charged with three counts of possession of child pornography, two counts of making available child pornography, and one count of accessing child pornography. In October, undercover HSI special agents in Utah discovered a person in Canada, later identified as Hughes, sharing child pornography over the Internet. The evidence gathered in Salt Lake City was forwarded to HSI’s office in Toronto and special agents there coordinated efforts with Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Child Exploitation Unit.

Monday, the OPP Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, OPP Technical Crimes Unit and the Stratford Police Service executed a search warrant at Hughes’ Stratford residence. Two computers, an external hard drive and other items were seized that contained images of child sexual abuse.

Hughes is scheduled to appear at a bail hearing Wednesday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Stratford.

This investigation was 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.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2823 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 28-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

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.