BOISE, Idaho - An Ada County, Idaho, man was sentenced Thursday to 51 months in federal prison for possessing sexually explicit images of minors, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Edward Vance, 52, of Meridian, Idaho, was also ordered to a lifetime of supervised release following his release from prison. He pleaded guilty to the child pornography charges in May 2010.
Vance 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 websites 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 HSI 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 an image of child pornography is viewed, an innocent child is exploited," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of ICE's HSI office that oversees Idaho. "We will continue to dedicate our resources and investigate those individuals who commit this type of crime and ensure they are brought to justice."
This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet.
As part of 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.
Through Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov.