TEXARKANA, Texas: Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei announced the Eastern District of Texas sentenced a Bowie County sex offender to federal prison for possessing child pornography.
William Johnson Springer, 60, of Texarkana, Texas, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2020, to possessing child pornography and was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison. Judge Schroeder also ordered Springer to pay restitution to his victims, register as a sex offender, and serve a life term of supervised release following his imprisonment.
“This repeat sex offender victimized the weakest in our community by viewing and possessing child pornography,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “My office will continue to find and prosecute those who sexually exploit our children by viewing, possessing, distributing, or producing child pornography.”
According to information presented in court, Springer possessed a cell phone, which he used to download and collect images and videos containing child pornography. His collection of more than 600 photos included depictions of prepubescent minors, sadistic or masochistic abuse or violence, and sexual abuse and exploitation of infants and toddlers.
Springer was previously convicted of possession of child pornography in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma. On Feb. 9, 2009, they sentenced him to 67 months in federal prison and five years of supervised release due to that conviction. Springer also has pending charges for failure to comply with registration requirements in the 202nd District Court in Bowie County.
This case is 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. The United States 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 via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims worked the case. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation worked the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan R. Hornok prosecuted.
TEXARKANA, Texas: A correctional officer and federal inmate have been sentenced for a bribery conspiracy in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.
“EDTX is committed to the principle that no person, regardless of their title, status, or position, is above the law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “This corrupt law enforcement officer exploited his position of public trust and endangered the inmates and staff at FCI Texarkana. This office will work tirelessly to protect the trust and confidence that East Texans have placed in their law enforcement community.”
James Thompson, a 55-year-old Titus County, Texas, man, pleaded guilty on August 5, 2020, to conspiring to commit bribery and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Robert W. Schroeder III. Judge Schroeder also ordered Thompson to forfeit $17,200.00 in U.S. currency and cash proceeds from his scheme.
Gilbert Gomez, a 54-year-old federal inmate, pleaded guilty on August 31, 2020, to conspiring to commit bribery and was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison by Judge Schroeder. Judge Schroeder also ordered Gomez to forfeit $15,000 in cash proceeds from his scheme.
According to information presented in court, beginning before August 2019 and continuing through January 2020, Thompson, a federal correctional officer, and Gomez, a federal inmate, engaged in a scheme to smuggle contraband into the Federal Correctional Institution located in Texarkana, Texas. During the scheme, Thompson received cash bribe payments and prison contraband at a post office box under the alias of “Bobby Brown.” Thompson then smuggled the contraband into FCI Texarkana when he entered the facility to go to work. Gomez coordinated the scheme from inside the institution, where he arranged cash bribe payments and delivered the smuggled contraband to other inmates. Thompson and Gomez received more than $30,000.00 total for smuggling contraband into FCI Texarkana.
The Dallas Field Office of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, the Fort Worth Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Bureau of Prisons, Special Investigative Services invested the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan R. Hornok was the prosecutor.
Offender Brought to Justice by Joint Operation of Homeland Security Investigations, INTERPOL, Thailand Department of Special Investigations, and Australian Federal Police
TYLER, Texas – The Eastern District of Texas sentenced a Longview sex offender who they identified as part of a joint international investigation to federal prison for child pornography violations.
Charles Orange, 55, was convicted by a jury on September 18, 2020, of possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 240 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Robert W. Schroeder III on March 4, 2021. Following Orange’s release from federal prison, he is on a life term of supervised release.
“There is no place for Charles Orange in a lawful society,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “He is unapologetic, unrepentant, and unremorseful. Nothing short of incarceration will stop him from engaging in the sexual exploitation of children. The Court’s sentence sends a clear message to Charles Orange and other like-minded predators – the public has the right to be protected. On behalf of the Eastern District of Texas, I wish to express my gratitude to HSI, INTERPOL, Thailand’s DSI, Australia’s AFP, and our other law enforcement partners from around the world for their tireless efforts and shared commitment to save the lives of children and bring sexual predators to justice.”
“Finding and arresting devious child predators who attempt to evade detection by law enforcement through the use of the dark web and other anonymizing technologies remains a top priority for our agency,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge of HSI Dallas. “Fortunately, the investigative actions of our dedicated special agents have prevented this deviant from victimizing children within our community while also reminding other criminals that there are no safe spaces on the Internet for sexual exploitation of children. We remain committed to our global law enforcement partnerships in fighting child sexual exploitation, and we will continue to relentlessly pursue the predators who seek to steal the innocence of our children.”
According to information presented at trial, Charles Orange’s investigation originated as a lead from INTERPOL’s Operation Blackwrist. Agents with HSI Tyler, acting upon the INTERPOL lead’s information, executed a search warrant on December 20, 2018, at Charles Orange’s residence in Longview and found a device containing child pornography on a dresser next to Orange’s bed. According to a forensic analyst’s testimony, someone accessed and downloaded child pornography on the device as recently as the night before executing the search warrant. Analysts testified that Orange’s email address, Internet history, and Internet Protocol (IP) address connected him to the child exploitation website identified in Operation Blackwrist. Additionally, the evidence presented at trial showed that they used the device to take surreptitious photographs of young boys in Longview’s stores the day before the search warrant’s execution.
In 2008, Orange was convicted of Indecency with a Child and was required to register as a sex offender.
Operation Blackwrist, named after a bracelet worn by one of the victims, was launched by INTERPOL in 2017 following the discovery of material depicting the abuse of 11 boys, all under 13 years old. The material—first identified on the dark web—originated from a subscription-based website with nearly 63,000 users worldwide. For years, the site had published new material weekly, with the abuser taking great care to avoid detection, often masking the children and leaving very few visual or audio clues.
Officers relied on the children’s physical traits to track their ongoing abuse and reached out to the global police community for help.
In June 2017, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) took on the case, working in close collaboration with INTERPOL’s Liaison Bureau in Bangkok. Investigators around the world also joined the effort to identify the 11 boys and locate website administrators. HSI eventually identified the website IP address and worked to establish links to the United States.
Bulgaria’s Cybercrime Department at the General Directorate Combating Organized Crime, supported by Europol, took down the website’s servers. The Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand deconflicted intelligence and compiled information packages on website users for INTERPOL member countries. The U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children cross-checked email addresses and provided additional intelligence. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and South Australian Police came on board when an IP address pointed to Adelaide’s location.
In November 2017, they identified the first victims, leading to simultaneous arrests in Thailand and Australia two months later. The website’s main administrator, based in Thailand, was identified as Montri Salangam. He was the man seen abusing the 11 boys, one of whom was his nephew. He had lured the children to his home with meals, internet access, and football games. A second administrator, Ruecha Tokputza, was based in Australia. Police found thousands of images taken in both Thailand and Australia on his seized devices, some of which featured Tokputza as the primary abuser. The youngest identified victim during the South Australian court proceedings was just 15 months old.
In June 2018, Thai courts sentenced Salangam to 146 years in prison on charges of child rape, human trafficking, and possession and distribution of child sexual abuse material. A second man, an elementary school teacher close to Tokputza, received 36 years in prison on the same charges. On May 17, 2019, an Australian judge sentenced Tokputza to 40 years and three months in prison, the longest sentence ever imposed in Australia for child sex offenses. The judge referred to Tokputza as “every child’s worst nightmare” and “every parent’s horror.”
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock welcomed the successful prosecutions and applauded the massive international effort required. “Operation Blackwrist sends a clear message to those abusing children, producing child sexual exploitation material and sharing the images online: We see you, and you will be brought to justice. Every child abuse image is evidence of a crime, and INTERPOL will always provide its full support to officers on the ground to help identify and rescue victims around the world.”
“These efforts have already resulted in numerous arrests in the United States to include individuals occupying positions of public trust. We are proud to be a part of these international efforts,” said HSI Bangkok Regional Attaché Eric McLoughlin.
The website sparked a series of investigations worldwide, leading to further arrests in Thailand, Australia, and the United States. Police in nearly 60 countries examined referrals compiled by New Zealand.
HSI Bangkok and HSI Indianapolis partnered with INTERPOL and DSI, and other law enforcement agencies to pursue any investigative leads with a potential nexus to the United States. On January 16, 2018, HSI Bangkok assisted Thai authorities with searching and arrest warrants in furtherance of this operation. They executed one arrest and rescued five victims at the time of the operation.
Following this operation, HSI Bangkok worked with the HSI Cyber Crimes Center (C3) to ensure actionable leads for HSI domestic offices for further investigation. HSI Indianapolis, HSI Buffalo, HSI Ft. Lauderdale, HSI Norfolk, HSI Tyler, and C3 provided significant support for the operation.
To date, the operation has led to the rescue of 50 children and the arrest and prosecution of child sex offenders in Thailand, Australia, and the United States.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse and led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the 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 via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Agents conducted the investigation leading to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement charges, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Longview Police Department with support from HSI C3. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathaniel C. Kummerfeld and Marisa Miller prosecuted this case.
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