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Child Exploitation

Tampa man arrested for trading child pornography

TAMPA, Fla. — A Tampa man was arrested Tuesday on a federal complaint charging him with transportation, receipt, and possession of child pornography. The arrest comes after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Richard Donald Ragsdale, 56, of Tampa, made his initial appearance on Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas B. McCoun, III.

"This arrest should serve as a stark warning to those who engage in this behavior," said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge for HSI Tampa. "HSI and our partners will be relentless in pursuit of those who exploit our children."

According to the complaint, on May 5, an undercover agent downloaded child pornography over the Internet from an Internet Protocol (IP) address that was connected to Ragsdale's residence. Further investigation revealed online chats by Ragsdale, in which he admitted to having prior sexual contact with children and discussed the sexual abuse of children. On June 24, a federal search warrant was executed at Ragsdale's Tampa residence. Agents found hundreds of videos and images depicting child pornography on Ragsdale's laptop.

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 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

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. 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.