TYLER, Texas (KSLA) - A sex offender in Longview has now been sentenced as part of a joint international investigation, Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei announced Friday, March 5, 2021.
Charles Orange, 55, was convicted by a jury back on Sept. 18, 2020 of possession of child pornography. On March 4, 2021, he was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison. After being released, Orange will be placed of a lifetime term of supervised release.
“There is no place for Charles Orange in lawful society,” said Ganjei. “He is unapologetic, unrepentant, and unremorseful. Nothing short of incarceration will stop him from engaging in the sexual exploitation of children. The court’s sentence sends a clear message to Charles Orange and to other likeminded predators – the public has the right to be protected. On behalf of the Eastern District of Texas, I wish to express my gratitude to HSI, INTERPOL, Thailand’s DSI, Australia’s AFP, and our other law enforcement partners from around the world for their tireless efforts and shared commitment to save the lives of children and bring sexual predators to justice.”
“Finding and arresting devious child predators who attempt to evade detection by law enforcement through use of the dark web and other anonymizing technologies remains a top priority for our agency,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, special agent in charge of HSI Dallas. “Fortunately, the investigative actions of our dedicated special agents have prevented this deviant from victimizing children within our community while also reminding other criminals that there are no safe spaces on the internet for sexual exploitation of children. We remain committed to our global law enforcement partnerships in fighting child sexual exploitation, and we will continue to relentlessly pursue the predators who seek to steal the innocence of our children.”
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says according to information presented at Orange’s trial, the investigation started as a lead from INTERPOL’s Operation Blackwrist. A search warrant was executed at Orange’s home in Longview on Dec. 20, 2018. A device containing child porn was found on a dresser next to Orange’s bed, the DOJ says. According to testimony from a forensic analyst, the porn had been accessed and downloaded as recently as the night before the device was found. Analysts testified that Orange’s email address, browsing history, and IP address connected him to the child exploitation website identified in the operation. The DOJ says evidence also showed the device found was used to take surreptitious photos of young boys in stores in Longview the day before.
Back in 2008, Orange was convicted of indecency with a child and was required to register as a sex offender.
Operation Blackwrist, which was named after a bracelet worn by one of the victims, was launched by INTERPOL back in 2017 after materials showing the abuse of 11 boys (all under age 13) were found. The materials were first identified on the dark web and originated from a subscription-based site with nearly 63,000 users across the world, the DOJ says. For many years, the site published new materials weekly, with the abuser taking care to avoid detection, many times masking the child victims and leaving few video/audio clues.
Then in June of 2017, Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) took on the case and worked with INTERPOL’s Liaison Bureau in Bangkok. Many other investigators around the world joined in the effort to identify the 11 boys and find out who was running the site. HSI eventually discovered the website’s IP address and worked to establish links to the U.S.
The DOJ says Bulgaria’s Cybercrime Department at the General Directorate Combating Organized Crime took down the website’s servers. The Department of Internal Affairs in New Zealand was able to compile a list of website users. The U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was then able to cross-check email addresses and provide additional intelligence. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and South Australian Police joined the investigation when an IP address pointed them to a location in Adelaide.
The DOJ says in November of 2017, the first victims were identified, leading to arrests in Thailand and Australia two months later. The website’s main administrator, who was based in Thailand, was identified as Montri Salangam. The DOJ says he was the man seen abusing the 11 boys, one of whom was a relative. The boys were lured to Salangam’s home with food, internet access, and football games. A second website administrator, identified as Ruecha Tokputza, was discovered based in Australia. The DOJ says police there found thousands of images taken in Thailand and Australia on devices they seized. The DOJ says the youngest identified victim was just 15-months-old.
In June of 2018, courts in Thailand sentenced Salangam to 146 years in prison on charges of child rape, human trafficking, and possession/distribution of child sex abuse materials. Another man, an elementary school teacher close to Tokputza, was sentenced to 36 years in prison on the same charges. Then on May 17, 2019, a judge in Australia sentenced Tokputza to 40 years and three months in prison, making it the longest sentence ever handed down in Australia for child sex offenses. The DOJ says the judge referred to Tokputza as “every child’s worth nightmare” and “every parent’s horror.”
“Operation Blackwrist sends a clear message to those abusing children, producing child sexual exploitation material and sharing the images online: We see you, and you will be brought to justice. Every child abuse image is evidence of a crime and INTERPOL will always provide its full support to officers on the ground to help identify and rescue victims around the world,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“These efforts have already resulted in numerous arrests in the United States to include individuals occupying positions of public trust. We are proud to be a part of these international efforts,” said HSI Bangkok Regional Attaché Eric McLoughlin.
The website sparked a number of investigations around the world, leading to more arrests in Thailand, Australia, and the U.S. Police in nearly 60 countries looked at referrals compiled by New Zealand authorities.
On Jan. 16, 2018, the DOJ says HSI Bangkok helped Thai authorities in the execution of search warrants and another arrest. Five victims were rescued during the operation. After the operation, HSI Bangkok worked with the following agencies to further the investigation:
- HSI Cyber Crimes Center (C3)
- HSI Indianapolis
- HSI Buffalo
- HSI Ft. Lauderdale
- HSI Norfolk
- HSI Tyler
To date, the operation has led to the rescue of more than 50 children, as well as the arrest and prosecution of sex offenders in Thailand, Australia, and the U.S.