PNT Staff Report
An Eastern New Mexico University student is among more than 100 arrested in connection with a nationwide child pornography investigation, according to a press release from 9th Judicial District Attorney Matthew Chandler’s office.
Matthew Coker, 21, a 2004 Clovis High graduate, was taken into custody by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents Monday and charged with possession of child pornography. Coker was to be booked in Las Cruces, according to Chandler. He said the U.S. Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case.
“We were honored to assist the federal government in (the investigation),” Chandler said. “These acts will not be tolerated and I am willing to dedicate any resources necessary to help take down Internet and child predators in our district.”
The investigation, code-named Operation Emissary, began with a tip in New Jersey and quickly spread to 22 other states, according to the news release. Approximately 125 persons have been arrested, the release said.
Chandler said federal agents seized control of a Florida-based Web site and operated it for a period of approximately 30 days this summer in order to catch others involved in the purchase of child pornography.
Chandler said his office was subsequently contacted for help in locating and interviewing Coker.
Coker told federal agents and district investigators during an Aug. 14 interview at the ENMU police department he paid $79 for a subscription to a child pornography Web site and he had viewed multiple images depicting pre-teens and teenagers engaging in sexual relations with each other, according to the release.
The press release said Coker gave agents consent to seize and analyze his personal computer from his dorm room and at that time he told them he had also viewed images from the Web sites on a computer at a Baptist church in Clovis where he was employed. That computer also was seized, according to the press release.
Testing revealed approximately 30 images, which were forwarded to the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children for possible identification of the children in the photos and videos. The center positively identified four of the images and interviewed the teens depicted.
Coker told readers of his Web log — www.hardbloglife.com — on Aug. 18 that he had “found myself in a situation where I will not have access to the internet for a few months to possibly a year or so. Therefore, I will not be posting anymore for a while.”
He did not offer additional details, but concluded the posting by telling readers: “I wouldn’t be opposed to you guys sending a prayer in my direction now and then either! ”