KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A local man pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to receiving child pornography via the Internet. This guilty plea resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Samuel T. Smith, 22, of Platte City, Mo., pleaded guilty Feb. 8 in the Western District of Missouri to a federal "information" charging him with receiving child pornography. Smith remains in federal custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.
Smith admitted to using his credit card to subscribe to two child pornography Web sites, "Pedo Heaven" and "Dreamzone," from which he downloaded numerous child pornography videos.
While ICE agents were investigating "Pedo Heaven," a subscription child pornography Web site, they identified and arrested the person responsible for processing the site's credit card transactions. He later cooperated with the investigation, and he explained how the Web site operated and how payments were processed. ICE agents obtained a search warrant for the server where one of the child pornography Web sites was hosted.
The search revealed images and videos of child pornography, along with log files containing data regarding individuals who accessed the site. ICE agents determined the specific images that were accessed by the subscribers and at what date and time the images were accessed.
On April 5, 2008, Smith's credit card was processed for $79.99 and he was granted access to the "Pedo Heaven" site. The server's log files revealed that Smith accessed numerous child pornography videos. When ICE agents executed a search warrant at Smith's residence, they seized a computer containing images and videos of child pornography, as well as 12 pages of child pornography Smith said he printed from his computer.
A forensic examination of Smith's computer showed that he had accessed at least 600 images and several movies containing child pornography, including sexually explicit images of children under 12 years old. Evidence also showed that Smith purchased a 30-day subscription to "Dreamzone" for $99.
By pleading guilty, Smith agreed to forfeit an Emachine computer he used to commit the offense.
Under federal statutes, Smith faces a minimum of five years and up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution.
"This case demonstrates that there are serious consequences for receiving illegal images of innocent children being sexually exploited and traumatized," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "Protecting children is a high priority for ICE, and we will continue to identify these child predators and bring them to justice, one by one."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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.