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Child Exploitation

Missouri man sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for child pornography

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - A local man was sentenced on Thursday to almost 20 years in federal prison for receiving child pornography over the Internet. The sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Ivron Butler, 45, of Carthage, Mo., was sentenced Feb. 11 to 235 months in prison without parole after he pleaded guilty to the child pornography charges in September. During the court hearing, U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner, Western District of Missouri, further ordered Butler to serve a lifetime term of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.

When Butler was taken into custody on an unrelated arrest warrant in September 2008, law enforcement officers seized a computer that he owned. ICE agents conducted a forensic analysis of the computer and discovered multiple images of child pornography Butler had downloaded from the Internet between May and September 2008.

According to court documents, law enforcement officers created an undercover MySpace account adopting the identity of a fictitious 13-year-old boy. Butler sent multiple pornographic photos and instant messages to the undercover investigators, including six requests to meet the boy in person. Butler also sent multiple pornographic Web site links to the undercover account.

ICE was assisted in the investigation by the Jasper County, Mo., Sheriff's Department and the Carthage, Mo., Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney James J. Kelleher, Western District of Missouri, prosecuted the case.

"Anyone who distributes or possesses child pornography victimizes the most vulnerable members of our society," said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Chicago. "ICE relentlessly pursues predators who sexually abuse children, including physical abuse, or exploitation by possessing or sharing child pornography."

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.