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Child Exploitation

Missouri man sentenced to 5 years in prison for distributing child pornography

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A local man was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for distributing child pornography over the Internet. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

James Lee Melvin, 58, of Columbia, Mo., was sentenced June 10 in the Western District of Missouri to five years in federal prison without parole.

Melvin pleaded guilty to the charges on Nov. 30, 2009. He admitted to downloading child pornography over the Internet and using a file-sharing program to distribute child pornography to others over the Internet. ICE agents discovered nearly 300 images of child pornography during a forensic examination of Melvin's computer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence E. Miller, Western District of Missouri, prosecuted the case. ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Mid-Missouri Internet Crimes Task Force and the Missouri Department of Social Services, State Technical Assistance Team.

"ICE will continue to seek out and bring to justice individuals who mistakenly believe the Internet shields them from detection," said Gary Hartwig, the ICE special agent in charge in Chicago.

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 12,800 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.