WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A West Palm Beach man, Michael L. Pickering, 19, was arrested and charged with distribution of child pornography following a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) led investigation.
Pickering appeared in federal court April 15, for his initial appearance and was detained without bond pending a bond hearing next week. His arraignment is scheduled for April 29, 2009.
According to the criminal complaint filed in court, the investigation commenced in August 2008, when an officer from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) downloaded approximately 350 images of child pornography from Pickering on an internet-based file sharing website. The RCMP, with assistance of French authorities, learned that Pickering's computer utilized an Internet Protocol (IP) address that was assigned to a residence located in West Palm Beach, Fla.
On March 31, 2009, the investigation revealed that the IP address registered to Pickering was still involved in the transmission of child pornography over the Internet and allowing others to view and download files that the defendant was sharing with others directly from his computer that depicted children under the age of 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
On April 14, 2009, ICE and FBI agents executed an ICE-led federal search warrant at the defendant's home in West Palm Beach. The search warrant resulted in the seizure of several computers, cellular telephones, DVDs, CDs and documents, including several videos containing child pornography. Pickering admitted that he downloaded numerous images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and was using file sharing programs to distribute those images to others on the Internet.
United States Attorney R. Alexander Acosta thanked ICE's Office of Investigations in West Palm Beach and the FBI's C-18 Crimes Against Children Division in Miami for their work on this investigation. Acosta also thanked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for their assistance in this matter.
It was investigated under 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 11,600 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers, through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.