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Child Exploitation

South Texas man pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

VICTORIA, Texas - A man from Edna, Texas, pleaded guilty on Monday to possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno for the Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Billy Forrest Marquis Jr., 51, pleaded guilty on Monday before U.S. District Judge John D. Rainey to possessing child pornography. Marquis was indicted by a Victoria, Texas, grand jury on Jan. 21.

ICE agents executed a search warrant at Marquis' residence on May 5, 2009, and seized a hard drive containing numerous images of child pornography. Dozens of these images had been identified as real victims by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Marquis admitted to subscribing to about 10 child pornography websites beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2009. He also admitted that he viewed images of children between 8 and 16 years old.

Marquis has been permitted to remain free on bond pending a sentencing hearing set for July 6. He faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment for this felony conviction. In addition, he may receive up to a lifetime of supervised release, during which the court can impose any number of conditions intended to protect children and prevent Marquis' use of the Internet.

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.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Duke, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting this case.