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Child Exploitation

Mesa man sentenced to more than 14 years on child pornography charges

PHOENIX – A Mesa man has been sentenced to more than 14 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to child pornography charges, following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Lee David Shropshire, 35, was sentenced June 24 to 170 months in prison by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow. In addition to the prison term, Shropshire will be subject to lifetime supervised release. Shropshire pleaded guilty March 20 to one count of distribution of child pornography.

"Each time an image of child pornography is distributed, that child is victimized again," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "As a result of HSI’s collaboration with our law enforcement partners in Australia, and the investigative work of our agents here at home, this child predator can no longer victimize innocent children. He will spend many years behind bars."

In January 2010, the ICE Cyber Crimes Center received information from Australian authorities that an individual in Arizona was distributing pornography using a peer-to-peer website. HSI investigators subsequently identified the individual as Shropshire. In September 2010, HSI agents interviewed Shropshire, who admitted to having child pornography on his computer and distributing the images on the peer-to-peer website. Investigators discovered more than 10,000 images and approximately 636 video files containing child pornography on Shropshire’s computer.

The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.

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.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Karlen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.