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Child Exploitation

West Texas man pleads guilty to downloading child pornography from the Internet

ABILENE, Texas – A Texas man pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to one count of transporting child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Connell Wilson Cook, 20, entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis who set a March 26 sentencing date. Cook has been in federal custody since his July 27 arrest when a federal search warrant was executed at his Abilene residence. He faces a statutory sentence of not less than five or more than 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

According to documents filed in the case, Cook admitted downloading several images of child pornography from the Internet, planning to later sell them online. When agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed the search warrant at Cook's residence, he was initially cooperative and escorted them to his bedroom to identify his computer. However, as he approached his computer, he lunged toward it, attempting to place a small magnet near its hard drive. After doing so, ICE HSI agents restrained and handcuffed him.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas.

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.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.