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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Member of International Child Exploitation Conspiracy Sentenced to 210 Months in Prison



A Wichita, Kansas man was sentenced to 210 months in prison and 10 years of supervised release, for production of child pornography based on his participation in a website that was operated for the purpose of coercing and enticing minors as young as eight years old to engage in sexually explicit conduct on web camera.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia; and Section Chief John J. Brosnan of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children Section (VCACS) made the announcement.

Allan Cortez, 34, was charged on April 4, 2016, and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III of the Eastern District of Virginia on April 14.

According to admissions made in connection with the plea agreement, members of the conspiracy created false profiles on social networking sites popular with children, posing as young teenagers to lure children to two websites they controlled. Once on the conspirators’ websites, Cortez admitted that members of the conspiracy showed the children pre-recorded videos of prior minor victims, often engaging in sexually explicit conduct, to make the new victims think that they were chatting with another minor. Cortez further admitted that conspirators used these videos to coerce and entice children to engage in sexually explicit activity on their own web cameras, which could be viewed live by other members without the victim’s knowledge and which the website automatically recorded and made available for download later. Cortez admitted that he chatted with minors in furtherance of the conspiracy. The defendant also admitted that one of the websites ranked the efforts of the members to successfully coerce and entice children to engage in sexually explicit conduct on live web camera. Both websites have been disabled.
 
This case was investigated as part of Operation Subterfuge, a multinational investigation coordinated by members of the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children (VCAC) International Task Force. VCAC special agents led the investigation with the assistance of the FBI’s Operation Rescue Me and the FBI’s Digital Analysis and Research Center and the Office of Victim Assistance. The South Africa Police Service, Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offenses, Gauteng; Royal Canadian Mounted Police, National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre; the Dutch Police Service Agency, KLPD; and the Australian Federal Police, Child Protection Operations, Sydney were active partners in Operation Subterfuge. To date, over 320 minor victims have been identified as part of this operation.



In addition to his prison sentence, the defendant was ordered to pay $15,215 of restitution.



Trial Attorney Lauren Britsch of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Whitney Russell of the Eastern District of Virginia prosecuted the case.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Kalamazoo Man Sentenced to 8 Years for Stolen Firearms



Keondre McNeely is the Sixth Defendant Sentenced in Connection with Firearms Stolen from Outpost Guns

GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — Twenty-seven-year-old Keondre McNeely, of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was sentenced to 96 months in prison for possessing a stolen firearm, Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge announced today. Along with codefendants Jorel Gefferard and Roscoe Manns, Keondre McNeely played a central role in transporting and trafficking 21 firearms that were stolen in November 2015 from Outpost Guns, a federally licensed firearms dealer (FFL) in Sturgis, Michigan. Of those 21 firearms, thirteen were assault rifles with large-capacity magazines.

In announcing the sentence, the Honorable Robert J. Jonker, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, noted that the defendant was a “key conduit” for putting the stolen firearms into circulation. Although the defendant had a limited criminal history, with no prior felony convictions, the Court emphasized the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct; by his involvement in moving and trafficking the stolen firearms, the defendant put a lot of people “in harm’s way.”

In total, six people have been sentenced for their role in the theft, trafficking, or possession of firearms stolen from Outpost Guns:

Kenneth Williams, of Kalamazoo, was sentenced to 96 months in prison, following his conviction for possessing one of the Outpost Guns firearms as a previously convicted felon;

Jorel Gefferard, of Sturgis, was sentenced to 84 months in prison, following his conviction for stealing the firearms from Outpost Guns;

Ronald Dafney, of Kalamazoo, was sentenced to 72 months in prison, following his conviction for possessing one of the Outpost Guns firearms as a previously convicted felon;

Kevonte McNeely, of Kalamazoo, was sentenced to 60 months in prison, following his conviction for possessing one of the Outpost Guns firearms as a previously convicted felon;

Roscoe Manns, of Sturgis, was sentenced to 54 months in prison, following his conviction for his possession of firearms stolen from Outpost Guns.

Acting U.S. Attorney Birge commented that: “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to investigating and prosecuting every link in the chain that leads to stolen guns on our streets—from those who steal from gun stores in the first place, to those who help conceal and move stolen firearms, to the sellers of stolen guns, and to the buyers.” Stolen firearms are, by nature, crime guns, and they typically end up in the hands of people with criminal records, who are themselves prohibited from buying guns. “Keondre McNeely and his codefendants put 21 stolen guns on the street and there is no telling when one or more of those firearms might be used in a violent way. If you steal guns from an FFL, if you sell stolen guns, or if you buy or possess a stolen gun, this Office is going to do what it can to ensure a lengthy prison term that reflects the seriousness and dangerousness of these crimes.”

“Stolen guns are being used in violent crimes that destroy not only families, but the fabric of our communities,” said interim Special Agent in Charge Thomas Chittum. “ATF will use the full scope of our resources to find those responsible for the theft and trafficking of illegal firearms so they can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Sturgis Police Department, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, and the ATF investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kate Zell prosecuted the case.

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