SAN FRANCISCO – Chad Andrew Carter, 44, (a.k.a. “TopRod”) was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents May 5 for possessing approximately 3,077 image files and 469 video files containing child pornography, including images and videos of victims as young as three-to-five years old.
Online resources to help parents, caregivers, and their children are available from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at https://www.missingkids.org/netsmartz/home and from HSI iGuardians at https://www.ice.gov/topics/iGuardians.
According to United States Attorney David L. Anderson, a criminal complaint filed April 30, 2020, states Carter, of San Francisco, is alleged to have knowingly possessed child pornography. As detailed in the complaint, an individual using the handle “TopRod” was observed in a Zoom chat room displaying and streaming child pornography videos. Zoom is a videoconferencing and photo and video sharing platform. The user “TopRod” was traced to an IP address and email account in the defendant’s name.
On Jan. 4, 2018, HSI agents executed a search warrant on the defendant’s residence and seized various electronic devices storing the image and video files containing child pornography.
Carter appeared May 6, 2020, via teleconference before the Honorable Alex G. Tse, U.S. Magistrate Judge, and then again via teleconference on May 7, 2020, before the Honorable Susan van Keulen, U.S. Magistrate Judge. Carter’s next appearance is scheduled for May 27, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.
A criminal complaint alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted on the possession of child pornography charge, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment, five years to a life term supervised release, a fine of $250,000, a special assessment of $5,000, criminal forfeiture, and restitution.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Ward with the assistance of Margoth Turcios and Llessica Chan Fierro. The prosecution is the result of HSI’s investigation.
Individuals across the world can report suspicious criminal activity to the HSI Tip Line 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Highly trained specialists take reports from both the public and law enforcement agencies on more than 400 laws enforced by HSI. Contact the toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form at https://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form. Both are staffed around the clock. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
Homeland Security Investigations
HSI takes a victim-centered approach to its child exploitation investigations by working to identify, rescue and stabilize victims. In fiscal year 2019, HSI nationally made nearly 4,000 child exploitation arrests, resulting in more than 1,750 convictions.
HSI works in partnership with NCMEC and other federal, state, and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC at https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/cybertipline or via the toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
For Internet safety information for educators, parents, and children alike, please visit https://www.ice.gov/topics/iGuardians to learn about HSI’s iGuardians program.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc.