PROVIDENCE, RI – Following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Rhode Island State Police (RISP), a Massachusetts man was sentenced March 5, in U.S. District Court in Rhode Island to seven years in federal prison for transporting, distributing and possessing child pornography
Fetahe Makonnen, 35, was convicted and sentenced after being arrested in October 2017, in possession of two computer thumb drives containing approximately 1,300 images and videos depicting child pornography involving prepubescent children. The case was investigated by HSI Providence and the Rhode Island State Police (RISP) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
In October 2017, Makonnen arranged to meet set up a meeting with someone he believed shared an interest in child pornography who, in reality, was an undercover Rhode Island State Police (RISP) Detective working with the state police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. After communicating with the undercover detective, Makonnen made arrangements to meet the undercover detective with the intention of sharing images and videos of child pornography, and with the hope of securing additional images and videos of child pornography. After providing the thumb drives of the images to the detective, Makonnen was taken into custody; he plead guilty, to transportation of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography on April 30, 2018
The case was prosecuted by the office of the United States Attorney for the District of Rhode Island Aaron L. Weisman. U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith presided in the case for which Makonnen was sentenced to seven years in federal prison followed by 10 years supervised release upon completion of his term of incarceration. Restitution will be determined at a later date to known victims whose images appear in some of the photographs and images of child pornography seized from Makonnen.
Makonnen’s sentence was announced by HSI Special Agent in Charge for Boston, Peter C. Fitzhugh, Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, and United States Attorney Aaron L. Weisman.
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 16,000 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 2016, more than 2,600 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 800 victims identified or rescued.
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. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
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.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member 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.