Editor’s Note: This story was updated on June 25 at 4:30 p.m. to include the arraignment date and information about the maximum penalties associated with the charges. Story was also updated on June 28 to include the booking photo, provided by the Okanogan County Sheriffs Office.

Arrest is part of task force investigation

By Ann McCreary

A Twisp resident, Jeffery Shawn Reed, 49, has been arrested on charges of allegedly possessing and distributing child pornography, as the result of an investigation by a state Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force led by the Seattle Police Department.

Photo courtesy of Okanogan County Sheriffs Office

Jeffery Shawn Reed

Reed was arrested on Wednesday (June 20) at his residence in the River’s Edge mobile home park in Twisp and is being held in the Okanogan County Jail. The arrest was made by members of the ICAC Task Force from Seattle and Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow.

On Friday (June 22), Okanogan County Prosecuting Attorney Branden Platter filed seven charges against Reed in Okanogan County Superior Court. They include three counts of possession of depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct in the first degree and two counts in the second degree. Platter said first degree involves depictions of sexual acts, while second degree does not include depictions of sexual acts.

The charges also include two counts of dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, both in the second degree. The first-degree charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years imprisonment and/or $20,000 fines; the second-degree charges carry maximum penalties of five years imprisonment and/or $10,000 fines. Arraignment is scheduled for Monday (July 2).      

Platter said his office “would reassess once we have more information” from computers and other electronic devices that were seized as evidence from his residence when Reed was arrested. “If there are more depictions, there is a good chance we will be adding charges,” Platter said. Reed is not charged with producing child pornography.

Budrow said he was contacted on Tuesday (June 19) by the Task Force to assist in the arrest. The Seattle Police Department is the lead agency for the ICAC in Washington, one of 61 task force groups across the country. The task forces investigate child sexual exploitation cases involving production, distribution or possession of child sexual exploitation materials using the Internet.

An investigation led the task force to an Internet protocol (IP) address at Sun Mountain Lodge, where Reed was an employee in the lodge’s IT (Internet technology) department, according to a statement by Seattle Police Detective Danial Conine, the arresting officer and investigator with the ICAC Task Force.

The 11-page statement and preliminary finding of probable cause, which was filed in Okanogan County Superior Court, details how Conine linked 1,134 “contraband connections” between August 2016 and January 2018 to a specific IP address. He opened an investigation in May into “peer-to-peer” file sharing, in which users transfer digital files on the Internet through the use of special software programs, according to the statement.

Search warrant for IP address

 Conine obtained a search warrant for subscriber information for the IP address, which he found belonged to Sun Mountain Lodge. Using a law enforcement version of a peer-to-peer file sharing program, he was able to review some of the contraband files from the IP address and found “images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children as young as toddlers.”

Because of the pattern of activity on a shared hotel Wi-Fi network, Conine said believed the suspect was likely an employee, who may have been trying to protect his or her identity. “The use of a shared Wi-Fi network would normally be a somewhat effective way in attempting to mask the identity of a user, given that the other factors of this investigation did not exist,” his statement said.

Conine obtained a search warrant for Sun Mountain Lodge, which he and another detective served on Tuesday (June 19). Through interviews with lodge managers and employees, Conine learned, among other things, that “Reed was the only employee whose work schedule was consistent with the P2P [peer-to-peer] pattern obtained during the investigation,” according to his statement. The detectives examined a hard drive they were told was “used only by Reed,” and found files with child pornography, Conine said. Later that day, Conine obtained another search warrant for Reed’s home in Twisp.

Conine and other detectives, along with Twisp Chief Budrow, served the warrant at 10 a.m. on Wednesday (June 20). Conine said Reed was advised of his Miranda rights and was interviewed by Conine and another ICAC detective. During a three-hour interview, Reed told them, among other things, “that he viewed files of child pornography,” Conine’s statement said.

Reed told the detectives that his “current pattern is to take his personal laptop to his job … and utilize the guest Wi-Fi connect to run the P2P program” and download files, according to Conine’s statement. Reed said “he is aware that his computer shares files he has downloaded” and tried to turn off the sharing function but was unable to figure out how, Conine said.

 “During a search of Reed’s home, multiple electronic devices containing suspected files of child pornography were recovered. These devices included his laptop computer, his external hard drive, and his desktop computer,” Conine said. His report describes two videos found on the devices depicting sexual exploitation of minors.

After the search and interview, Reed was taken into custody by Budrow and transported to Okanogan County Jail. He was booked into jail at 4:15 p.m.

Budrow expressed appreciation for the ICAC Task Force and its work in investigating the exploitation of minors via the Internet.

 “The people who do this job … I don’t know if I could do it,” Budrow said. “I want to say how good it was to work with this team. They are the top of the line at what they do.  They helped clean up our streets for us.”

Nationwide investigation

Reed’s arrest was a result of a three-month nationwide campaign called “Operation Broken Heart,” during which ICAC task forces across the country focused on disrupting peer-to-peer distribution of child pornography, said Mark Jamieson, a detective in the Seattle Police Department’s public information office.

 “These investigations can be very lengthy. We ended up arresting a bunch of people for peer-to-peer file sharing of pornographic images. This case was initiated as a result of the peer-to-peer investigation, a part of the Operation Broken Heart,” Jamieson said. “My understanding is that as we were working on this big thing, he [Reed] showed up on our radar.”

The ICAC task force brings together many agencies, and as lead agency for the task force, the Seattle Police Department often becomes involved in child sexual exploitation cases in other jurisdictions, Jamieson said.

More than 2,300 suspected online child sex offenders were arrested nationwide as a result of the three-month Broken Heart campaign conducted during March, April and May, according to information from the U.S. District Attorney’s office for the Western District in Seattle.

 “Sadly, Washington state consistently ranks among the top states for the sharing of images of child rape and molestation across peer-to-peer file sharing networks,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.

In Washington state, leads for peer-to-peer sharing of child pornography average 18,000-24,000 annually, putting the state in the top five with California, New York, Texas and Florida, according to the federal attorney’s office.

During Operation Broken Heart, investigators targeted suspects who produce, distribute, receive and possess child pornography; engage in online enticement of children for sexual purposes; engage in the sex trafficking of children; and travel across state lines or to foreign countries and sexually abuse children, the attorney’s office said.

The ICAC program is funded through the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.