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Child Exploitation

South Florida child predator sentenced to 30 years imprisonment

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - A Port St. Lucie man was sentenced to federal prison following a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Port St. Lucie Police Department.

James T. Byrne, 70, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Moore to 360 months in prison to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release as a sex offender. This was the maximum possible sentence that the court could impose. On Jan. 25, Byrne pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment charging him with production of child pornography.

The investigation began on Oct. 6, 2009, when the Port St. Lucie Police Department received information that Byrne had allegedly produced child pornography at his home with a 12-year-old female victim. On Oct. 29, 2009, ICE special agents in Fort Pierce initiated an investigation after they received a request for assistance from the Port St. Lucie Police Department.

Subsequent investigation by ICE and the Port St. Lucie Police Department confirmed that from July through September 2009, Byrne engaged in sexual activity with a mentally handicapped 12-year-old child. Byrne took photographs of the sexual activity and then transferred the images of the sexual activity to his computer. ICE special agents conducted a forensic examination of the Byrne's computer, digital cameras, and camera memory cards and recovered more than 300 images of child pornography involving the minor child.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer C. Millien.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested almost 12,000 individuals through Operation Predator.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. 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.