Federal Initiative Puts Sex Offender Behind Bars

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man was sentenced to over five years in jail last week after being convicted in federal court on child pornography receipt charges.

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Dustin Anthony Axelrod, 27, of to 70 months in prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release for receipt of child pornography. Quarles ordered that upon his release from prison, Axelrod must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis; and Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matthew Maciarello.

According to the plea agreement, on Jan. 9, 2009, a Wicomico County detective, utilizing an undercover computer at the Wicomico County Child Advocacy Center, was investigating the online distribution and receipt of child pornography via file sharing software.  At the same time, Axelrod was at his home using a file sharing program and 286 of his files were available for download. The detective downloaded several of the files, which contained visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. 

A subsequent search at Axelrod’s home on Feb. 4, 2009, recovered a computer and external hard drive. A forensic analysis of the equipment revealed over 600 images and movies documenting the sexual abuse of minors, including children under the age of 12.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders, and child sex traffickers.

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