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Man gets 8 years in child porn case

Man gets 8 years in child porn case

Bruce, 52, arrested in nationwide FBI investigation

April 17th, 2017 by Lynn LaRowe in Texarkana News

A Texarkana man nabbed in a nationwide FBI investigation into child pornography dubbed Operation Pacifier was sentenced to just over eight years in federal prison Thursday.

Gary Thomas Bruce, 52, appeared for sentencing with Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson before U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III. Bruce pleaded guilty in January in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas to the second of two counts listed in an indictment accusing him of possession of and access with the intent to view child pornography

Bruce apologized for his crime Thursday and expressed a desire that his victims, whom he does not personally know, will recover from the abuse they suffered.

Schroeder sentenced Bruce to 97 months in federal prison and assessed a $5,000 penalty under the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, which became law in 2015. JVTA funds are used to combat human trafficking and assist victims.

After his release from federal prison, Bruce must register as a sex offender. He also will be supervised for 10 years by federal probation officials and will be subject to additional prison time if he violates his terms of release.

Computer equipment and accessories—seized by law enforcement when a search warrant was executed Sept. 11, 2015, at Bruce's apartment on Sowell Lane in Texarkana, Texas,—are forfeited to the government.

Among the 600 images discovered in Bruce's possession were photos of children younger than 12 engaged in "sadistic or masochistic conduct or other depictions of violence," states a factual basis filed in January in Bruce's case.

According to statements made in court and earlier news reports, Bruce came to the attention of federal authorities after the FBI took over a site on the "dark web" called Playpen, which allowed users to share and download images depicting the sexual exploitation of children.

"Dark web" refers to websites that cannot be accessed using traditional Internet browsers.

A search warrant affidavit for Playpen notes that users were able to anonymously share the offensive images using Tor software, which conceals a person's true Internet protocol address. The Washington Post and Seattle Times reported the FBI investigation and use of Playpen to identify those sharing child pornography was dubbed Operation Pacifier.

The search warrant states the FBI received information from a foreign country identifying the site's U.S. location. Once the operators of the site were taken into custody, the FBI continued to operate it so that purveyors of child pornography could be identified, the affidavit states.

Schroeder dismissed the remaining count of Bruce's indictment on an oral motion made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Ross.

llarowe@texarkanagazette.com

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