LOS ANGELES – An Antelope Valley landscaper is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court Tuesday afternoon following his arrest on federal child pornography charges for allegedly generating sexually explicit images of a 3-month-old infant and emailing them to an undercover investigator in England.
Robert Dale Schrader, 33, of Littlerock, was taken into federal custody Monday afternoon. He is charged in a criminal complaint with two counts of production of child pornography. If convicted of both counts, Schrader faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a possible maximum sentence of 60 years. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
Schrader’s arrest is the result of an ongoing probe by federal and local investigators assigned to the Long Beach-based, multiagency Child Exploitation Investigations Group (CEIG), spearheaded by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Other agencies actively involved in the CEIG include the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).
According to the criminal complaint, the probe targeting Schrader began Jan. 29 after British authorities alerted HSI’s attaché in London that an individual using a Yahoo email account had sent multiple sexually explicit images of an infant to an undercover officer in England. Data embedded in those images allegedly indicated they had been taken in the vicinity of Schrader’s Littlerock home.
That same day, investigators executed a federal search warrant at Schrader’s residence, where they located the infant seen in the images. The boy was rescued and turned over to DCFS. During the search of the home, authorities recovered additional evidence potentially linked to the case, including children’s clothing and computer equipment.
"This is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, child pornography victims ever identified in the Los Angeles area," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "Fortunately, remarkable international cooperation and very astute detective work enabled us to locate this infant and rescue him just hours after receiving the initial lead."
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.