John Ellenbacher, 47, of Linden, N.J., is charged with one count of distributing images of child sex abuse over the Internet. If convicted, Ellenbacher faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to court documents, in August 2012, HSI special agents engaged in a child exploitation investigation, intercepting emails containing criminal images and videos. The investigation into the origin of the emails led to a computer at Ellenbacher's home.
HSI special agents executed a search warrant Wednesday at Ellenbacher's home, seizing digital evidence that contained multiple images depicting child sexual abuse, including material involving prepubescent minors. Ellenbacher was taken into custody following the search.
This 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-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.