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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

U.S. Attorney Matt Martin Recognizes Law Enforcement for Operation that Lead to Multiple Child Exploitation Arrests and the Rescue of Children from Sexual Abuse

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - A man who pleaded guilty to transportation of child pornography was sentenced today, announced Matthew G.T. Martin, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Dustin Davis HAYNES, 34, of Lexington, North Carolina, pleaded guilty on March 2, 2020, to one count of transportation of child pornography. He was sentenced by Chief United States District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder to 65 months of imprisonment followed by 10 years of supervised release.

HAYNES was the first individual arrested after a Boone Police Department detective infiltrated a private group on a mobile messenger application dedicated to the sexual exploitation of children and the trafficking of child pornography. According to documents filed in the case, the detective, pretending to be a 14 year-old girl, convinced an administrator to add him to the group. Once accepted, the detective was able to gain access to additional similar private groups. Several days later, the detective and agents from the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed a search warrant at HAYNES’s Lexington, North Carolina residence and arrested him.

Over the next several months, SBI, HSI, and the Boone Police Department detective worked to identify additional group members and sent leads throughout the country, and the world. Many of the offenders had taken significant steps to mask their identities. The investigative team engaged these offenders online and tricked them into revealing personal identifying information. In total, 38 leads were sent to various law enforcement entities. To date, 23 offenders have been arrested and 8 children have been rescued from sexually abusive situations. As an example, an Ohio man was quickly arrested and his 14 year-old daughter was rescued. He had been sexually abusing her for ten years. Another individual was arrested on an oil rig in the North Sea and his 5 year-old daughter was rescued.

“Protecting children is a high calling,” said U.S. Attorney Matt Martin. “The Boone Police Department, the NC SBI, and the Department of Homeland Security are answering the call. The excellent proactive work of the investigators in this case has undoubtedly changed victims’ lives for the better and safeguarded others. I am proud that an investigation that began here in North Carolina has resulted in such a positive impact across the country, and even abroad. This case is an example of the effective local, state, and federal law enforcement partnerships required to fully combat online child sexual exploitation. Such partnerships are the heart of the Internet Crimes Against Children [ICAC] Task Force and more necessary now than ever as we have recently seen an alarming year-over-year increase in CyberTipline reports from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children [NCMEC]. It takes courage to confront depictions of unspeakable sexual abuse, often amounting to torture, in order to bring child sex offenders to justice. The investigators in this case deserve our deep gratitude.”

“Individuals who distribute child pornography steal the innocence of children and revictimize them each time the evidence of their exploitation is shared online,” said Homeland Security Investigations Charlotte Special Agent in Charge Ronnie Martinez. "This case shows HSI is actively working to identity and disrupt the trade of these illegal images, and also to identify and seek prosecution of the criminals who produce, possess, and distribute them.”

The Boone Police Department, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations are all members of the North Carolina Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The case was investigated by Detective Jason Reid of the Boone Police Department; Assistant Special Agent in Charge Nathan Anderson and Lead Analyst Tiffany Pate of SBI; and Group Supervisor Aaron Chapman, Special Agent Patrick Wilhelm, Certified Forensic Analyst Amy Olsen, and Investigative Research Specialist Janice Morquecho of HSI.

The HAYNES case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Eric L. Iverson and Whitney N. Shaffer. The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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 year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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Updated September 2, 2020