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May 8, 2015Raleigh, NC, United StatesChild Exploitation

North Carolina couple sentenced for manufacture of child pornography

RALEIGH, N.C. – A Lillington couple were sentenced to federal prison Thursday for manufacturing child pornography following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office.

Bailey Joe Mills, 34, received 45 years of imprisonment followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Mills’ wife, Elizabeth, was sentenced to 16 years followed by 10 years of supervised release. Both are required to register as sex offenders.

On June 12, 2014, a criminal information was filed charging Bailey Joe Mills with manufacturing child pornography. Elizabeth Mills was charged by criminal complaint Oct. 20, 2014, with aiding and abetting the manufacturing of child pornography. Both subsequently pleaded guilty to their charges.

According to information presented in court, in January 2014 an investigation was initiated relating to the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old. Law enforcement learned that Bailey Joe Mills had also sexually abused at least 10 other minors and that he had paid several of the minors to have sex with himself and other men.

As the investigation continued, a search warrant was executed on the Mills’ residence in Harnett County, where multiple computers, cellular phones and media storage devices were seized. Forensic examination of the cellular phones and computers revealed still images and videos depicting the minors engaged in prohibited sexual conduct produced by Bailey Joe Mills with the assistance of his wife.

Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes prosecuted the case for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. 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-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.