JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Lake City man pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Jacksonville Sheriff's Office (JSO) and the Lake City Police Department. Ronald Charles Waters, 65, of Lake City, pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Waters faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a potential life term of supervision. Waters was arrested Nov. 20, 2013, in Lake City and has been in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service since that time.
"HSI remains committed to protecting our youth from criminals like this," said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge for HSI Tampa.
According to court documents, special agents with HSI determined that several individuals had received an email containing images of child pornography. Further investigation revealed that the email address subscriber was listed as "R. Waters," and the account was traced to a residence in Lake City where Waters resided. HSI agents interviewed Waters at his residence, at which time Waters consented to a search of his computer. Three images depicting child pornography were found on the computer in deleted space.
On Nov. 20, 2013, HSI special agents and other law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Waters' residence. Waters was present and agreed to speak with special agents. During the interview, Waters stated that he was the only one who had access to his computer media. A forensic analysis of the computer revealed that it contained at least two videos and at least 16 images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
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.