Semmes Man Sentenced to Five Years in Prison for Possessing a Machinegun in Furtherance of Drug Trafficking
United States Attorney Sean P. Costello of the Southern District of Alabama announced that United States District Judge Callie V.S. Granade sentenced defendant Wesley Hodges, 24, to thirty years in prison for Production of Child Pornography and Distribution of Child Pornography offenses. Hodges entered a guilty plea to those offenses on March 3, 2022.
According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, in early June 2021, Hodges came to law enforcement’s attention because an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation Task Force Officer (“undercover TFO”) was conducting an investigation within a Kik messenger chat room dedicated to child pornography. On or about June 4, 2021, the undercover TFO observed Hodges share child pornography within that chat room. While in this chat room, Hodges stated he was from Alabama. A review of Hodges’s Kik profile showed a photograph of Hodges. The undercover TFO began a private one on one chat with Hodges in which Hodges shared additional child pornography. Hodges subsequently invited the undercover TFO to continue their conversation on Facebook Messenger. Hodges and the undercover TFO became “friends” on Facebook and began a private message thread. While privately chatting with the undercover TFO via Facebook Messenger, Hodges distributed several pornographic images and videos of a minor who was known to him. Hodges told the TFO that he knew the minor and could convince her to send pornographic images of herself. Hodges initiated a group chat between himself, the undercover TFO, and the minor. The undercover TFO also messaged the minor privately to try to obtain information about her, potential abuse, and her location in order to initiate protective law enforcement action. Through investigation, law enforcement was able to determine Hodges’ identity and location. The undercover TFO communicated with local FBI and state law enforcement regarding his communications and swift plans for apprehension were made due to Hodges’ access to minors. At the time of his arrest, Hodges was found to have thousands of images of child pornography. Further investigation revealed that Hodges had been distributing images of child pornography in many online chatrooms. The minor child was interviewed and confirmed that Hodges had been abusing her for years.
The victim and her parents were present at the sentencing hearing and addressed the Court by submitting written letters.
Judge Granade imposed a thirty-year sentence of incarceration. The judge also ordered Hodges to serve a lifetime term of supervised release upon his discharge from prison. Judge Granade ordered that Hodges pay $29,294.00 in restitution to his victims and $300 in special assessments. Hodges will be required to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison and is to have no contact with minors.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Monroeville Police Department, and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Kacey Chappelear and Beth Stepan prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit https://www.justice.gov/psc/publications-resources.