Wednesday, November 05, 2008

ICE: Operation Predator - Solving Intertwined Child Porn cases

After this blog recently praised Spain for their work fighting Child pornography I was enlightened to the excellent work of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and their Operation Predator.

Operation Predator is taking the time to track down child sex offenders, not just in the United States, but around the world. The Operation Predator FactSheet has some good facts and stats, such as the fact that in its first four years, ICE has lead to the arrest of 10,700 child predators nationwide! The Operation Predator News Site lists 29 cases just from October of this month!

A case sentenced yesterday in San Antonio, Texas, will illustrate how intertwined some of these investigations have shown to be. The particular case is an FBI arrest, but you'll see the Operation Predator tie in.

Richard Fleming was sentenced to 20 years after pleading guilty to two counts of possession of child pornography. The plea bargain allowed alleged travel from Texas to Illinois to have sex with underaged boys to be left out of the case. The 45 year old computer security expert will serve "lifetime house arrest" after his release, and will be forbidden to possess pornography, or to use a computer without permission of a federal probation officer. Fleming has more than 24 years experience in computer security, including working in the Air Force's Air Intelligence Agency Technology Demonstration Center at Lackland Air Force Base, and co-founding a security and risk management company called Digital Defense Inc in San Antonio in 1999.

Fleming's name has come up in two other cases - that of Charles Burt, an Illinois resident sentenced to 100 years for creating and distributing images of young boys in pornographic acts and that of William Martin of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.

Charles Burt was the administrator of a website for pedophiles called "Starkids". Burt's troubles began in 1997 when he traveled to Ottawa to develop pictures of nude boys aged 5 and 7. An employee in the photo shop contacted the police, who in turn contacted the Department of Children and Family Services. The five year old testified that he had been touched inappropriately by Burt, and that he had witnessed Burt performing a sex act on a 4 year old boy. Burt was a registered foster parent in Illinois and would at times have legal custody of wards of the state. The charges were dropped at that time, as the photographs were admittedly nude but not found to be pornographic.

Interest in Burt was re-opened after the FBI arrested Beaver Dam, Wisconsin resident William Martin. Martin ran a sex ring where adults would pay to travel to Wisconsin to have sex with children that he recruited for the purpose. The children were often recruited at flea markets and fairs where Martin would sell trinkets and toys as a way to gain access to young boys. When Martin was arrested, he claimed to have the names of 300 other pedophiles in his "buddy list" in Yahoo Chat. Martin would ultimately be convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

“ICE and our law enforcement partners have succeeded in taking a group of child molesters off the streets for decades. Our message to those who contemplate such crimes is this: We will not stand by as you prey on the most vulnerable among us. We will find you, prosecute you, and incarcerate you.”
-- Brian Falvey, the Resident Agent-in-Charge in ICE's Wisconsin office

Some of the places Martin would meet people are unfortunatley still in operaton today, such as and which both exist to promote "boylove" (aka the rape of children).

The Press Enterprise ran an investigative report called Children for sale: Nationwide sex ring's reach included Riverside after Riverside police Officer Adam James Brown became another of those convicted from Martin's "buddy list". Brown had paid Martin $3,970 to meet several young boys for sex. The boys were sometimes paid in cash ($100) or other times were taken shopping for items such as a new PlayStation II.

At the time of the 2004 story, this map was listed (click for larger version):

Some of those since sentenced have included:

Joel Kline, 42, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse with children and two counts of travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile. He was sentenced to two life terms in prison and three 360-month terms.

Adam Brown, 32, formerly a police officer in Riverside, Calif., was convicted of travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile. He was sentenced to 365 months in prison.

Robert Hornyak, 60, of Milwaukee, Wis., was convicted of receiving and distributing child pornography and sentenced to 78 months in prison.

Kurt Sandvig, 44, of Kansas City, Mo., was convicted of travel with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a juvenile. He was sentenced to 360 months in prison.

Two others, from the map above, were ultimately sentenced after being arrested by ICE agents in Michigan as part of "Operation BuddyList":

Guy Lundrum, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for molesting 5 children, as young as 18 month old, after being arrested by Michigan ICE agents following a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Brian Urbaniwiz, of Saginaw, Michigan, was sentenced to "4 to 20" years for "communicating to commit a crime" and for "35 to 60 years" for molestation of his own children, including a 12 year old, and 9 year old twin sons.

This case and the other cases resulting from Operation BuddyList reveal the disturbing truth that some adults will go to great lengths to exploit and molest children," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent-in-charge of the ICE Detroit Office of Investigations. "While we cannot give back the innocence to those who were abused and exploited, we can make sure that justice is served. The great cooperative efforts of the Detroit area local, state and federal law enforcement and prosecuting agencies involved in this case, helped ensure that justice was indeed served on behalf of these child victims."

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