A Carpinteria man pleaded guilty before a U.S. district judge on Monday, June 1, to one count of mailing child pornography.
Donald Charles Collier, 45, admitted to participating in photo shoots with seven under-aged girls during two trips to Europe in 2006. Collier stated that these photo sessions were pre-arranged through a website run by an individual in Italy, where Collier also purchased videos. As part of his plea agreement, Collier admitted that he took photos of the girls, who were between the ages of seven and fourteen, either partially or fully nude and in provocative poses.
Collier was identified through Operation Joint Hammer, the U.S. component of a global enforcement organization dedicated to targeting child pornographers. Operation Joint Hammer discovered Collier after his return to the U.S. from his second European trip, upon which he mailed a CD containing the images he had taken to a European address.
Collier’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for August 31, 2009. He will face a mandatory minimum of five years and a fine of up to $250,000; there is also a possibility that he will be charged with 20 years in prison or a lifetime period of supervised release.
Operation Joint Hammer worked closely with its European counterpart, Operation Koala, to track down a group of people in Europe who were exploiting children by molesting them and producing photographs of that abuse commercially. This discovery led to numerous online child pornography rings, which hosted both offenders and customers, from 30 countries around the world.
Collier’s case was investigated by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.