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Press Release

Thomaston Man Faces Maximum 20 Years Imprisonment in Project Safe Childhood Investigation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

MACON, Ga. – A Thomaston, Georgia, resident pleaded guilty to possessing child exploitation material of infants and toddlers resulting from a Project Safe Childhood investigation.

John Wesley Mitchem, 31, of Thomaston, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography before U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell on Feb. 17. Mitchem faces a maximum 20 years of imprisonment to be followed by up to a lifetime of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Mitchem will have to register as a sex offender for life upon his release from federal prison. There is no parole in the federal system. Sentencing has been scheduled for May 3.

“Individuals who participate in the sexual exploitation of children will face significant time in federal prison for their crimes,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Our office—working alongside federal, state and local authorities—will pursue justice for victims against any adults who sexually entice, abuse or harm a child.”

“Thankfully we were able to prevent this predator from victimizing another innocent child,” said Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger, who oversees Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) operations in Georgia and Alabama. “Every time one of these horrific images is viewed it forces the victims to relive the traumatic event all over again and HSI and its partners are diligently working to find and prosecute these offenders.”  

According to court documents, the Homeland Security Investigations Atlanta, Child Exploitation Investigations Group (HSI-CEIG) received information from HSI Detroit that an individual employing Kik application username “bigchevyguy0” was in contact with an undercover HSI agent and had sent the undercover agent three images that contained child pornography. Mitchem was identified as “bigchevyguy0,” and agents executed a federal search warrant at his Thomaston residence on March 13, 2020. A forensic examination of Mitchem’s digital devices found six images and one video of child sexual exploitation material depicting infants and toddlers. Mitchem admitted that he shared the three images with the undercover agent using his cellular device from his residence.

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 the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

The case was investigated by HSI-CEIG Atlanta.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Kalim is prosecuting the case.

Updated February 18, 2022

Project Safe Childhood