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Child Exploitation

Idaho man pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

BOISE, Idaho - An Ada County, Idaho, man pleaded guilty Monday to federal charges of possessing sexually explicit images of minors, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Edward Vance, 52, of Meridian, Idaho, came to the attention of law enforcement after ICE's Cyber Crime Center began investigating a criminal organization operating a commercial child pornography website. The investigation showed that Vance had purchased memberships to several website that were selling child pornography.

In September 2007, ICE agents served a search warrant at Vance's home. At that time, he admitted to possessing child pornography and turned over several compact discs that were hidden behind some books.

Agents seized six computers and four hard drives in addition to the discs. Vance admitted that he had purchased more than 10 memberships to illegal websites over the past seven or eight years.

ICE agents conducted a forensic analysis of the computer storage items and discovered more than 6,500 sexually explicit images and 555 videos of child pornography. Investigators identified nearly 70 minors from Europe and throughout the United States who were victims of abuse depicted in the images.

"Every time abhorrent images like this are produced, transmitted, or viewed, one of our most precious innocents, a child, is victimized," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's Office of Investigation that oversees Idaho. "Addressing this sordid matter remains a high priority for the men and women of ICE and we will continue to seek out and bring to justice those who mistakenly believe the Internet shields them from detection."

Vance is scheduled to be sentenced on July 19. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison with no possibility of parole and a fine of up to $250,000.

This case was the result of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals under Operation Predator.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.