SHREVEPORT, La. (WBTV) - United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced on July 29th that the last two defendants in U.S. custody arrested so far in the Dreamboard child sex exploitation and child pornography site case were sentenced by U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks.
Christopher Blackford, 28, of Charleston, S.C., was sentenced to 265 months in prison with a lifetime of supervised release for participating in a child exploitation operation. According to the evidence presented at the guilty plea, Blackford joined Dreamboard Dec. 29, 2009, and placed 84 online bulletin board posts containing child pornography.
William Davis, 39, of Bristol, N.H., was sentenced to 210 months in prison with a lifetime of supervised release for his part in the Dreamboard child exploitation operation. According to the evidence presented at his guilty plea, during his time on Dreamboard, Davis posted advertisements offering to distribute child pornography to other members of the board.
Blackford and Davis were charged in an indictment unsealed on Aug. 3, 2011. The charges were the result of Operation Delego, an investigation launched in December 2009 that targeted individuals around the world for their participation in Dreamboard. The board was a private, members-only, online bulletin board that was created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of very young children in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection.
A total of 72 individuals, including Blackford and Davis, were charged as a result of Operation Delego. To date, 57 of the 72 charged defendants have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Nine of the 57 are in the process of being extradited to the United States. Forty-seven individuals have pleaded guilty, and one was convicted after trial. The 48 individuals who have pleaded guilty or found guilty for their roles in the conspiracy have been sentenced to prison and have received sentences ranging between five years to life in prison. Three defendants have received life sentences, including the one who was convicted at trial. Fifteen of the 72 charged individuals remain at large and are known only by their online identities. Efforts to identify and apprehend these individuals continue. Operation Delego represents the largest prosecution to date in the United States of individuals who have participated in an online bulletin board conceived and operated for the sole purpose of promoting child sexual abuse, disseminating child pornography and evading law enforcement.
"There is a lot of work to be done before most, if not all, online operations like this one can be stopped," Finley stated. "It took the work of many agencies, both domestic and international, to find and bring these defendants to justice. I want to thank all of the prosecutors and law enforcement agencies who were involved from the beginning and those who have seen this case through until now. We hope to make more arrests in the case and bring to justice all of the individuals who perpetrate such vile schemes that endanger children."
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Luke Walker of the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Keith Becker of CEOS. The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance. The investigation was conducted by ICE-Homeland Security Investigations, the Child Exploitation Section of ICE's Cyber Crime Center, CEOS, CEOS's High Technology Investigative Unit and 35 ICE offices in the United States and 11 ICE attaches offices in 13 countries around the world, with assistance provided by numerous local and international law enforcement agencies across the United States and throughout the world.
The investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE.
This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Tips or other information can also be submitted to ICE online at www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp.
Tips may be reported anonymously.