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Child Exploitation

North Texas man indicted on Federal child pornography charges

FORT WORTH, Texas - A man from Saginaw, Texas, was arraigned on Wednesday for allegedly receiving and possessing child pornography, as outlined in a two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury last week. These charges were announced by U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas. The case is being investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Secret Service North Texas Electronic Crimes Task Force, and the Saginaw, Texas, Police Department.

Matthew J. Merideth, 33, has been in federal custody since his arrest in October 2010 on a related charge in a federal criminal complaint. His trial is set for Jan. 10 before U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means.

According to the complaint, in April 2010, the Saginaw Police Department responded to a residence in Saginaw regarding a report of possible sexual assault of a child. Upon arriving at the residence, officers interviewed Merideth. A few days later they executed a state search warrant for his computer. A preliminary forensic exam of the computer revealed that two child pornography videos had been recently downloaded from the Internet using a peer-to-peer file-sharing program. The exam also revealed that numerous images of child pornography had been saved on his computer. According to the complaint, Merideth told investigators that he had used a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to locate and download child pornography because he was attempting to hunt down individuals preying on children. Merideth, however, told investigators that he wasn't successful; nor did he report any of this activity to law enforcement.

If convicted Merideth faces a maximum statutory sentence of not less than five or more than 20 years in prison for receiving child pornography, and no more than 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography, plus up to a lifetime of supervised release and a $500,000 fine.

This investigation is 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.

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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex C. Lewis, Northern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.