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September 13, 2007

RALEIGH - On September 12, 2007, JOE FOREST ROSS of Fayetteville, North Carolina, pled guilty to a receipt and possession of child pornography in violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, Sections 2552(a)(2)and(a)(4), before United States Magistrate Judge David Daniel. ROSS was charged with activity that began in approximately December of 2002 and continued until at least October of 2006.

ROSS was a subscriber to a now-defunct website that called itself "Illegal.CP" and sold access to extreme images of the sexual abuse of young children. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detected the site and took it down in an operation known as Operation Emissary, they discovered records leading to many subscribers, including ROSS. ROSS' subscription information included his email address, physical address, phone number and debit card number. Based on this information, investigators obtained a search warrant for ROSS' residence and conducted a forensic examination of his computer equipment, revealing that ROSS had amassed significant collection of child pornography.

United States Attorney George E. B. Holding welcomed the plea. "Unfortunately, we continue to battle a population of criminals who view the rape and sexual abuse of children as an acceptable form of entertainment. Consumers of this material create a market that guarantees that more children will suffer unspeakable abuse for the sake of their amusement. They are, therefore, complicit in the abuse, and our office intends to aggressively prosecute such behavior."

ROSS will be sentenced on December 10, 2007, before Chief District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. ROSS faces a minimum of 5 years and up to a maximum of 20 years' imprisonment.

This case is part of the Project Safe Childhood initiative, a national program aimed at ensuring that criminals exploiting children are effectively prosecuted by making full use of all available law enforcement resources at every level. For more information about this important national project, Project Safe Childhood, go to

Investigation of the case was conducted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the United States Postal Inspection Service, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and the Bladen County Sheriff's Office. Assistant U. S. Attorney Jay Exum handled the case for the United States and coordinated prosecution with the Office of the Bladen County District Attorney.


News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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