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2011-01-13

Kiddie porn bust on Galveston Street

By Judith Pannebaker BCC

A Bandera County resident has been busted for possession of child pornography - aka kiddie porn - according to Chief Deputy Richard Smith of the Bandera County Sheriff’s Office.
The raid of the unidentified man’s house, located in the 100 block of Galveston Street, took place on Thursday, Jan. 6. Agents with the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division (ICE) of the Department of Homeland Security executed a federal evidentiary search warrant. Smith said members of the BCSO Emergency Response Team assisted with serving the warrant and recovering evidence. “Sufficient evidence was found at the man’s home for federal agents to seek an indictment and secure an arrest warrant,” he noted.
The ICE division became involved in the case because child pornography in cyberspace possibly involves victims from many countries. Additionally, ICE is now under the larger umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security.
When confronted, the 59-year-old white male readily admitted to possessing, distributing and selling child pornography. Child pornography is defined as any visual depiction of a minor, especially prepubescent children or young adolescents, engaged in sexual activity.
According to Smith, ICE agents recovered approximately 2,000 videos that are suspected to contain illegal images of children, as well as a quantity of hard copy photographs. Marijuana and smoking devices were also discovered during the raid.
In a Monday, Jan. 10 KENS 5 report, Karen Grace reported that agents had seized 17 computers, seven duffel bags of CDs and more than 3,000 videos of child porn from the suspect’s home, according to Vincent Iglio, deputy special agent in charge US Department of Homeland Security, San Antonio. Grace’s report also indicated that the man’s arrest is pending.
A multi-billion dollar industry, child pornography has become one of the fastest-growing criminal activities on the Internet. In recent years, increased attention has been given to the presence and availability of child pornography on that venue. Laws such as the Child Online Protection Act and the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which outlaw child pornography, cover new media such as websites and other online forms of child pornography.
In the United States, as in most western countries, possession of child pornography is a criminal act - regardless of intent to distribute. In 2006, former President George W. Bush signed a law that increased civil liabilities on consumers of child pornography, raising civil penalties from $50,000 to $150,000 for downloading child porn. In addition, the law allows adults who were photographed as children to recover damages from anyone who downloaded their images.
It should be emphasized that once images of sexually exploited children are posted on the Internet, those images are irretrievable and essentially circulate forever. The children are re-victimized as the images are viewed again and again.
Both the United States Code and the Texas Penal Code contain laws against possession and distributing child pornography. Prosecutions under federal criminal laws can result in harsh sentences due to the existence of the United States Sentencing Guidelines, a point system that takes into consideration the number of images that are the subject of the prosecution. The guidelines also include additional enhancements such as the nature of the images and whether the images were shared or distributed.
Distribution of child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison. In the State of Texas, suspects can be charged with second and third degree felonies.
Increasingly, scholars and law enforcement personnel have adopted the term “child abuse images” because the term “pornography” often carries an inaccurate implication of consent and creates distance from the abusive nature of the material.
According to Smith, federal agents spent three months building their case against the man who lives with his elderly mother. Computer experts with ICE apparently tracked him online as he downloaded and stockpiled the pornographic images and videos.
Smith declined to comment on whether more locals would be swept up in the federal investigation.
After the investigation is completed, the case against the Bandera resident will be forwarded to the office of the US Attorney General and eventually brought before a federal grant jury. If indicted for possession and distribution of child pornography, the suspect will be tried in the US District Court, Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division.
Smith speculated that the suspect’s indictment and arrest would be relatively swift. “I anticipate that a federal grand jury will convene next week and get an indictment out,” Smith said. “Agents indicated that this was one of the largest stashes of child porn they had come across in quite sometime.”
At present, federal agents are attempting to identify the victims depicted in the videos. “We will be able to determine if [the material] was sold trafficked or produced,” Iglio said in his interview with Grace.

Sources: www.teakelllaw.com, criminal-law.freeadvice.com, en.wikipedia.org, www.missingkids.com and answers.yahoo.com.