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Child Exploitation

Washington man charged with child pornography offenses

Defendant used online chat program to trade illegal images

SEATTLE – An east King County man has been charged with distribution and possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Richard Lindsay Minifie, 44, was arrested this morning by ICE agents at his Woodinville, Wash., home. He came to the attention of law enforcement in March 2008 following the seizure of a computer that belonged to a suspected child pornography distributor in Virginia.

A forensic examination of the computer in Virginia revealed online chat logs between the Virginia suspect and a screen name and e-mail address that belonged to Minifie. During the cross-country chats, the two men exchanged pictures of children engaged in sexually explicit activity and commented on the photos.

The investigation into Minifie showed that that he sent more than 330 images to the Virginia suspect. When ICE agents subsequently executed a search warrant at Minifie’s residence, his computers were found to contain numerous images of child pornography.

"Some who traffic in child pornography on-line falsely believe that the anonymity of cyberspace shields them from detection," said Leigh Winchell, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations that oversees Washington. "In fact, the Internet gives investigators new tools in our enforcement efforts to protect innocent children."

Distribution of child pornography is punishable by mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum sentence of up to 20 years. Possession of child pornography is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Both counts carry a $250,000 fine and the possibility of a lifetime of supervised release.

The charges against Minifie are the result of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE initiative to identify, investigate, and arrest those who prey on children. ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or www.cybertipline.com.