Chicago Man Pleads Guilty to Engaging in Internet-Based Child Exploitation Enterprise and Child Pornography Conspiracy
PHILADELPHIA – U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Marqueal Bonds, 22, of Chicago, IL, pleaded guilty to engaging in a nationwide child exploitation enterprise and conspiracy to advertise child pornography. Bonds entered a guilty plea mid-trial before Senior United States District Judge Harvey Bartle, III.
Using Discord, an electronic communications service that allows users to share files and communicate via text chat messages, Bonds and his co-conspirators participated in two separate collections of chat rooms to discuss and share files containing child pornography. Shortly after federal agents executed a search warrant of Discord’s servers in October 2018, revealing messages about child pornography, the defendant confessed to his participation in this child exploitation enterprise. Subsequent forensic analysis of his digital devices confirmed his confession.
“Bonds was part of a deplorable group of sexual predators who exploited thousands of young girls on Discord, a web-based chatroom application,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Bonds and his co-conspirators employed a familiar ruse to lure their victims: they trolled the Internet on legitimate sites like Snapchat, Periscope, and Live.me for vulnerable victims, tricked them into believing they were chatting with boys or girls their own ages, and then obtained video and naked photos of them to share on Discord. Bonds’ guilty plea ensures that he will be held accountable for this exploitation, and my Office will continue to aggressively prosecute child predators in all their noxious forms.”
“Marqueal Bonds not only manipulated underage girls into providing him explicit images of themselves, he shared them online, perpetuating the sexual exploitation of these children,” said Tara A. McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “We’re pleased that Bonds finally recognized how much damning digital evidence the FBI’s investigation turned up and decided, mid-trial, it was in his best interests to change his plea to guilty. The FBI is working aggressively every day to put predators like this behind bars and prevent them from targeting additional victims.”
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.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kevin Jayne and Department of Justice Trial Attorney Kaylynn Foulon, of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.