News and Press Releases

Defendant Identified as Part of “Operation Emissary”

January 4, 2008

MITCHELL IAN BLACKBURN, 39, of Port Angeles, Washington, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to Possession of Child Pornography. BLACKBURN faces up to ten years in prison when he is sentenced on April 4, 2008, by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle.

According to records filed in the case, BLACKBURN was identified as a suspect after he subscribed to a web site that was identified as providing child pornography. The investigation dubbed “Operation Emissary,” was initiated in the New Jersey office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in late 2005. More than 260 people were arrested nationwide. Those charged had subscribed to a hard core child pornography website in late 2005 and early 2006. The arrests were made in 44 states, including Washington.

BLACKBURN first subscribed to a website that offered access to child pornography in February, 2006. On August 10, 2006, law enforcement searched BLACKBURN’s Port Angeles home and found more than 1,000 images of child pornography on BLACKBURN’s computer. Some of the images depicted sexually explicit images involving children under 12-years-old. At least ten of the images showed the children being subjected to violent and sadistic sexual abuse.

As part of his plea agreement, BLACKBURN forfeits a variety of computer equipment to the government, and agrees to a Psycho-Sexual Assessment. BLACKBURN agrees to sexual deviancy treatment as part of a ten year term of supervised release. BLACKBURN will be required to register as a sex offender.

This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mike Dion.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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