St. Croix Man Who Downloaded Images from the BitTorrent Network Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography
St. Croix, USVI – On Thursday, November 14, 2019, Collin Gomes, 26, of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge George Cannon, Jr., to possession of child pornography, United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced.
According to the plea agreement filed with the court, on or about August 16, 2018, September 6, 2018 and October 22, 2018, a Grand Prairie, Texas police detective was conducting an online investigation on the BitTorrent network for offenders sharing child pornography. An investigation was initiated for a device on the IP address used by the defendant because it was associated with a torrent with a particular infohash [SHA1 Hash over the part of a torrent file that includes: ITEM: length(size) and path (path with filename) Name: The name to search for. Piece length: The length(size) of a single piece. Pieces: SHA1 Hash of EVERY piece of this torrent]. On each of the dates above, a download of files was successfully completed from the device that the defendant’s IP address was making available. Each download contained child pornography.
On December 14, 2018, HSI executed a search warrant on the defendant’s residence. Agents explained to the defendant what they were searching for and advised him of his rights. The defendant waived his rights and agreed to speak to the agents. They asked if he viewed, downloaded and made available for download any files containing images or videos depicting child pornography and the defendant said "yes." The defendant also told the agents he had an HP computer on which he had child pornography and that he had been downloading child pornography since 2011 and collected thousands of images and videos. He stated that there was approximately one and a half Terabytes of material. HSI found thousands of child pornography images and videos found on the defendant’s computer and external hard drives.
Gomes faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date has been set for March 18, 2020.
The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rhonda Williams-Henry.