LOUISIANA MAN, JONATHAN JOHNSON, PLEADS GUILTY TO OPERATING INTERNATIONAL CHILD EXPLOITATION ENTERPRISE
Today, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr. announced that JONATHAN JOHNSON, age 27, of Abita Springs, Louisiana, pled guilty to Operating a Child Exploitation Enterprise in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252A(g).
According to court documents, from 2012 through 2013, JOHNSON administered two child pornography websites identified as Website A and Website B out of his Abita Springs home in order to distribute images and videos depicting the sexual victimization of children. JOHNSON’s illegal websites had over 27,000 members located throughout the world. As the administrator of these websites, JOHNSON regulated membership in the websites and created two categories of website users: members and uploaders. JOHNSON required members to register with a user name and password before they could download video files, comment on videos, or exchange private messages. Uploaders had the same privileges as members, but were also permitted to upload sexually explicit material directly to JOHNSON’s websites. JOHNSON’s websites also included tutorials that provided guidance to members and uploaders on ways to communicate with minor boys in order to coerce them into creating sexually explicit videos and JOHNSON’s websites also provided instructions so members and uploaders could avoid detection from law enforcement. JOHNSON frequently utilized and encouraged other members and uploaders to access popular social networking sites in order to search for and locate unsuspecting minor boys for the purpose of having them create sexually explicit videos. JOHNSON and other website members and uploaders created fake female Internet personas in order to initiate online communications with young boys.
During the course of the investigation of JOHNSON, special agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service determined JOHNSON’s websites contained approximately 2,000 videos depicting the sexual exploitation of young boys. Dubbed “Operation Roundtable,” the case against JOHNSON has resulted in ten (10) additional individuals being charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Orleans. To date, five (5) of those defendants have entered pleas of guilty to crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.
In addition, Operation Roundtable has resulted in over twenty-five (25) additional defendants being arrested and charged with various state and federal charges throughout the United States and approximately 250 child victims have been identified and/or rescued by law enforcement officials.
“Today’s guilty plea represents a significant step in our continued efforts to dismantle a criminal enterprise that is responsible for the sexual victimization of our nation’s young people,” stated United States Attorney Polite. “Once again, I commend HSI and the Postal Service for being dedicated partners in Operation Roundtable. Together, we are committed to utilizing our collective resources to bring justice to both the victims and the perpetrators of these crimes. Our important investigation is on-going.”
“With at least 27,000 members worldwide, this criminal oversaw the largest child pornography network ever discovered in this agency’s history,” said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Raymond R. Parmer Jr. “Never before have so many minor victims been identified in the course of a single child exploitation investigation. Protecting children is one of HSI’s highest priorities and we will continue to investigate and seek prosecution of these dangerous criminals who exploit innocent victims and destroy lives for their own selfish desires.”
“Postal Inspectors investigate a wide variety of crimes in our mission to protect the integrity of the U.S. Mail, but sexual exploitation of children is particularly heinous,” said U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Robert Wemyss. “When these predators use a combination of mail and the Internet to exploit our children we will ensure no aspect of their crimes escape justice.”
JOHNSON will be sentenced on July 17, 2014 by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown. JOHNSON has been in federal custody since his arrest on June 13, 2013.
JOHNSON is facing a mandatory minimum term of incarceration of twenty (20) years to a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. JOHNSON will also be required to register as a sex offender pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
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 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. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case is being investigated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The prosecution of this case is being handled by Fraud Unit Chief and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba.
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