A Fernley resident pleaded guilty Friday to using encrypted applications and online aliases to distribute child pornography, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher Chiou for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI.
According to court documents, Benjamin D. Morrow, 36, used various encrypted messaging applications and numerous online aliases and email address, including foreign email service providers, to distribute unsolicited images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He used encrypted applications to conceal his identity and avoid detection by law enforcement. Morrow distributed child pornography to at least 182 recipients. The images and videos depict prepubescent minors under 12 years old engaged in masochistic and sadistic material.
During the execution of a search warrant at Morrow’s residence, law enforcement seized several electronic devices belonging to him. A forensic analysis of the seized devices revealed approximately 119,371 images of child pornography and 4,945 videos of child pornography.
Morrow pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of child pornography. He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 16, 2021. The maximum statutory penalty for each count is 20 years in prison.
The case was investigated by the FBI, Nevada Attorney General’s Office, Washoe County Sherriff’s Office, Lyon County Sherriff’s Office, Reno Police Department, Carson City Sherriff’s Office, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andolyn Johnson is prosecuting the case.
The 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.