Montana 21 defendants sentenced (01/18/2016 @ 22:55:02)
Last of 21 defendants sentenced in Montana for their roles in an international child pornography network of predators
MISSOULA — The last of 21 defendants was sentenced Thursday for sexually exploiting children via two international online bulletin boards where members advertised, distributed, viewed and received images depicting child pornography.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Montana announced the sentence. This investigation is a cooperative effort between the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations, Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Montana Department of Criminal Investigations, the Helena Police Department, and the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Operation Kingdom Conqueror was initiated in 2011. FBI agents and officers from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICACTF) received a tip regarding a potential child pornography suspect. In early 2012, the FBI obtained a search warrant for the residence of Paul Wencewicz in Polson, Montana. During their search, agents discovered that Wencewicz was operating an online bulletin board where members advertised and traded sexually explicit images of young girls. The bulletin board was named Kingdom of Future Dreams (KOFD), and was created by Wencewicz in 2009. Between November 2009 and March 2012, Wencewicz and other members of the bulletin board sexually exploited hundreds of girls, both domestically and internationally, by trading images and videos of them.
Through their investigation, agents discovered that the KOFD bulletin board was housed on a server in the Isle of Jersey, one of the Channel Islands of the United Kingdom. Through cooperation with local police, state and federal agents were able to track down members of the bulletin board who resided in the United States and to obtain search warrants for their residences. Searches were conducted by federal officers in the following other 11 states: New Jersey, Maryland, Missouri, Indiana, Virginia, Washington, Massachusetts, Kentucky, Arizona, Texas and California. The KOFD conspiracy identified 13 defendants in the United States in addition to Wencewicz of Polson. Through their investigation of the KOFD defendants, agents learned that eight of the 14 defendants were also members of a second child exploitation bulletin board called the Dark Moon, which involved a highly complex encryption scheme. Agents gained access to the board in April 2013 and identified additional members.
The final defendant sentenced Jan. 7 as part of the operation in Missoula is Shawnston Beaudoin, 31, of Kennesaw, Georgia. Beaudoin pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge Sept. 30, 2015. If called upon to prove its case at trial, the United States was prepared to demonstrate that Beaudoin became an active member of Dark Moon in October 2012. He remained an advanced member of the board until April 2013. During that time he posted to the advanced-member section of the board. His posts included URL hyperlinks and preview images of child pornography. He also requested child pornography from other members, and responded to and commented on other members’ postings. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Dana Christensen presided over the sentencing.
As a result of this investigation and prosecution, the following individuals were also convicted of Conspiracy to Advertise Child Pornography and sentenced to federal prison:
Paul Wencewicz, 49, from Polson, Montana, was sentenced to 220 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Scott Long, 55, from Portland, Oregon, was sentenced to 200 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Steve Humiston, 58, from Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced to 210 months and lifetime of supervised release, and $5,000 fine, $29,859 restitution;
Phillip Morris, 43, from Jeffersonville, Indiana, was sentenced to 216 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Tony Bronson, 55, from Gary Indiana, was sentenced to 224 months BOP, 10 years of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Jeffrey Woolley, 55, from Nicholasville, Kentucky, was sentenced to 180 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Charles Crosby, 45, Trenton, New Jersey, was sentenced to 210 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
John Johnson, 59, from Locust Grove, Virginia, was sentenced to 180 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Joseph Purificato, 25, from Mount Vernon, Missouri, was sentenced to 180 months, 10 years of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Ian Nosek, 44, from Charlottesville, Virginia, was sentenced to 216 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
Robert Krise, 67, from Gaithersburg, Maryland, was sentenced to 180 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution;
John Merchberger III, 48, from Dayton, Maine, was sentenced to 220 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and a $5,000 fine;
Daniel Brown, 27, from Taylors, South Carolina, was sentenced to 180 months and a lifetime of supervised release;
Marc Edoria 24, Sacramento, California, was sentenced to 180 months, 10 years of supervised release;
Tony Gustafson 49, from Hastings, Nebraska, was sentenced to 200 months and a lifetime of supervised release;
Ryan Hatfield 26, from Mount Washington, Kentucky, was sentenced to 180 months and 10 years of supervised release;
David Woods 37, from Corfu, New York, was sentenced to 180 months and 15 years of supervised release; and
The following defendants were convicted at trial for participating in a Child Exploitation Enterprise and Conspiracy to Advertise Child Pornography and were sentenced as follows:
Joshua Petersen, 45, from Prescott, Arizona, was sentenced to 220 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution; and
Steven Grovo, 35, from Shirley, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 220 months, a lifetime of supervised release, and $29,859 restitution.
Richard Pitts, 28, from Cathedral City, California, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Distribute Child Pornography and was sentenced to 84 months and 15 years of supervised release.
“The predators on these illicit websites glorified the sexual assault of little girls and encouraged each other to share images of this terrible abuse," said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. "For the victim children, this trauma lasts the rest of their lives. Thanks to the great partnership among federal, state and local law enforcement, these criminals will be punished for their vile crimes and prevented from harming other children."
“This collaboration of federal and state law enforcement agencies demonstrates the power of the ICACTF and the concerted strength we can bring to bear against these types of child predators when we combine forces,” said Michael Cotter, U.S. Attorney for the District of Montana. “These operations succeeded in bringing to justice a group of dangerous and sadistic individuals, some of whom had committed prior sex offenses against children. As a result of the operations, one threat against Montana’s children—and children everywhere—has been dismantled. We will continue this successful collaboration and our efforts to protect our children and our communities into the future.”
Other federal agency Task Force partners expressed a similar commitment. “The FBI is dedicated to protecting the most innocent amongst us,” said Eric Barnhart, Special Agent in Charge. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at home and abroad to identify, locate, and arrest individuals who prey on children and then attempt to hide their illegal activities behind a veil of technology.
“Our special agents with Homeland Security Investigations have investigated child sexual exploitation cases for many years,” added David A. Thompson, special agent in charge of HSI Denver, which oversees Montana. “However, in collaborated efforts with other law enforcement agencies like this investigation we sometimes uncover networks and are ultimately able to apprehend many predators in our communities, and rescue many traumatized child victims. We appreciate the opportunity to continue such investigations to protect the most innocent and vulnerable members of our society.”
State law enforcement agencies were similarly committed to successfully concluding operations. “Bringing closure to this massive investigation sends a message to the cyber child pornography criminals,” said Bryan Lockerby of the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation. “There is no place to hide and no place where we can’t get you.”
Texas man sentenced 60 years (01/18/2016 @ 22:49:37)
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Southeast Texas man was sentenced Thursday to a total of 60 years in prison following his two convictions for producing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.
This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Portland (Texas) Police Department, and Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Daniel H. Aleman II, 34, of Gregory, Texas, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head to 30 years on each count to be served consecutively for a total of 60 years in federal prison. Aleman will then be on supervised release for the rest of his life, and he must register as a sex offender. Aleman was convicted Oct. 13, 2015 following a one-day bench trial.
Additional information was also presented Jan. 7, including testimony from an HSI special agent. The special agent described the videos Aleman recorded while female customers were changing clothes in the dressing rooms at the Goodwill Store where Aleman worked. One video depicted a woman dressing a girl that the special agent estimated was about 4 years old. The special agent also described the videos of child pornography Aleman possessed, many of which depicted prepubescent girls engaged in sexually explicit conduct with adult males. The court also took into consideration a letter read by a victim in court, the mother of the two girls that Aleman sexually assaulted. In the letter, the mother described the impact the sexual abuse has had on her children.
“This case reveals the disturbing and sobering truth that some adults will go to great lengths to sexually exploit children," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "While we cannot return the innocence that's been stolen from these children, we can ensure that those who commit these horrible crimes are brought to justice.”
In handing down the 60-year federal prison sentence, Judge Head noted that this kind of behavior cannot be tolerated. “Mr. Aleman, you should never walk the streets again,” he said.
There is no parole in the federal prison system.
At the time of the bench trial, the court heard that in December 2014, officers with the Portland Police Department were dispatched to a local Goodwill Store regarding an employee filming female customers while they were changing clothes in the store’s dressing rooms. A customer reported that a store employee, later identified as Aleman, taped a small video recorder to the corner of a shopping cart. Aleman then positioned the shopping cart under the bottom gap of the dressing room door.
In January 2015, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Aleman’s residence and seized various electronic devices. A forensic analysis on those devices revealed more than 50 videos of child pornography, more than 20 videos of women in dressing rooms, a video of Aleman sexually assaulting an unconscious adult female, and 12 videos of Aleman sexually assaulting two children. The children were identified and confirmed the abuse.
At trial, Aleman did not deny the allegations, only argued that the search was not valid. The court found him guilty as charged.
Aleman was arrested on federal charges in April 2015. He has been in custody since that time where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
In FY2015, HSI agents examined 6.1 petabytes of data, the equivalent of 122 million four-drawer file cabinets filled with text, or 81 years of high-definition video.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.
US/Mexico Human Trafficking (01/18/2016 @ 22:58:38)
ICE HSI investigation leads to arrest of 8 in US, Mexico for human trafficking
NEW YORK — Special agents in New York and the Mexican Federal Police in Mexico arrested eight people Thursday for human trafficking and sex trafficking related charges. The arrests follow an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Government of Mexico.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York unsealed a 27-count indictment charging eight defendants with sex trafficking, interstate prostitution, alien smuggling, money laundering, racketeering and racketeering conspiracy in connection with scheme to compel Mexican women and girls into prostitution in the United States
Over a two-day period, authorities arrested five defendants in Mexico and two in Queens, New York, as part of a coordinated bilateral law enforcement action. A third defendant is currently in federal custody in West Virginia. The eight defendants are Jovan Rendon-Reyes, aka Jovani, 32, of Mexico; Saul Rendon-Reyes, aka Satanico, 37, of Queens; Guillermina Rendon-Reyes, 44, of Mexico; Francisco Rendon-Reyes, aka Pancho, 27, of Queens; Jose Rendon-Garcia, aka Gusano, 32, of Mexico; Felix Rojas, 45, of Mexico; Odilon Martinez-Rojas, aka Chino or Saul, 44, currently of Brucetown Mills, West Virginia; and Severiano Martinez-Rojas, 50, of Mexico.
“This joint operation reflects our commitment to working with Mexico to bring to justice human traffickers who have no regard for human life,” said ICE Director, Sarah R. Saldaña. “We are resolute in our efforts to not only arrest the human traffickers behind this vile crime, but also to rescue the victims whose lives have tragically been forever changed.”
“This case demonstrates the Justice Department’s steadfast commitment to ending human trafficking,” said U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “As set forth in the indictment, these defendants used force, fraud, and coercion to lure young women and girls into their control, smuggle them into the United States, and exploit them for profit – an abhorrent violation of both the law and basic human dignity. In the days ahead, the Department of Justice will continue to act decisively to hold traffickers accountable, protect vulnerable individuals, and assist survivors of this heinous crime. I want to thank the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who worked tirelessly on this case, and our partners in the government of Mexico for their invaluable assistance.”
The indictment alleges that the defendants were members of an international criminal organization, identified in the indictment as the Rendon-Reyes Trafficking Organization, which engaged in sex trafficking and related criminal activity between December 2004 and June 2014 in Queens, Atlanta and Jemison, Alabama, among other locations. The defendants used force, threats of force, fraud and coercion to cause young women and girls from Mexico and Latin America to engage in prostitution in the United States.
Since 2009, ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Department of Justice have collaborated with Mexican law enforcement counterparts in a Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative aimed at strengthening high-impact prosecutions under both U.S. and Mexican law. The initiative is aimed at dismantling human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, bringing human traffickers to justice, reuniting victims with their children and restoring the rights and dignity of human trafficking victims, held under the trafficking networks’ control.
These efforts have resulted in successful prosecutions in both Mexico and the United States, including U.S. federal prosecutions of over 50 defendants in multiple cases in New York, Georgia, Florida and Texas since 2009, and numerous Mexican federal and state prosecutions of associated sex traffickers. The charges unsealed Thursday are the latest development in the Eastern District of New York’s comprehensive anti-trafficking program, which has to date indicted over 65 defendants in sex trafficking cases and provided assistance to over 130 victims, including 36 minors. In addition, through the Eastern District of New York’s anti-trafficking program, 18 children have been reunited with their victim-mothers.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Courtney Dow Interview (08/05/2012 @ 05:19:19)
Former stripper helps women escape sex industry (05/02/2012 @ 06:59:42)
It may seem like an unlikely place to find a group of women from a Rockdale County church. But for the team led by Kasey McClure, it is ground zero for their ministry, 4 Sarah.
McClure, a former stripper, began the nonprofit organization to help girls escape what she said is a dangerous and destructive industry.
McClure said it leads to alcohol and drug abuse and a life of crime.
On two Saturday nights in March and April, CBS Atlanta followed the missionaries as they stopped at strip clubs, sex spas and motels.
Armed with gift bags filled with treats, a Bible and information about resources, the McClure and her team speak to the girls who sell sex for a living.
"Our main goal is to get them out of course, but we know that it takes a while. Sometimes they're not ready. A lot of times they're not ready. It might be years before we see results for one girl we work with," McClure said.
McClure said some girls believe stripping or prostituting is the only way to make money to support themselves and sometimes children.
McClure tries to earn the girls' trust by not judging and returning month after month with gifts and advice.
As the team drives down the street, they pull over to hand gift bags to prostitutes walking on the shoulder of the road.
"You're beautiful. You deserve better," McClure said to one girl.
McClure said many of the girls working in the sex industry come from poverty and a history of sexual abuse.
McClure and her team became hopeful when they met "Amber" at a motel.
At the time, Amber, 19, said she was 9-months pregnant and turning tricks up to 15 times a day.
"I knew I had to do something to survive," Amber said. "I don't want to do it. The only thing that gets me through is I find a hole in the wall I look at it. When I'm done I count my money, go pay for my room and go to sleep."
The women pray with Amber, give her gifts for her baby and offer to get her a safe place to live.
Amber said "thank you," but walked away without accepting their offer.
McClure said she's not surprised. It takes time for women like Amber to trust them.
"Hopefully we touched her life today and she's willing to listen to what we have to say. Even if it's not today she'll remember this night and later in the future she'll know God truly loves her," McClure said.
NightLight Atlanta on Pure Passion (01/10/2012 @ 18:03:37)
Voice Today on Pure Passion (02/14/2012 @ 04:43:13)
WellSpring Living on Pure Passion (03/05/2012 @ 05:22:44)
Hope House CBN Interview (02/13/2012 @ 05:08:26)