HSI and local law enforcement investigation leads to lengthy federal prison sentence for child exploitation

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GREENEVILLE, Tenn. – An Elizabethton man will serve 210 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to distribution of child pornography.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Carter County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO).

Upon his release from prison, James Ellison Catoe, 48, will serve a lifetime supervised release, be required to register with the state sex offender registry and comply with special sex offender conditions during his supervised release.

According to his plea agreement, in November 2019, a search warrant was executed at Catoe’s home after HSI and CCSO received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) about the download of child pornography images and videos at the residence. During the search, over 11,000 images of child pornography were discovered on Catoe’s computer and cellular phone. Some images depicted the sexual victimization of a toddler. During questioning, Catoe admitted to possessing child pornography as well as downloading and viewing it for some time. He also admitted to distributing and trading child pornography to hundreds of individuals over the course of a year. Catoe also admitted to law enforcement that he and a 14-year-old female had exchanged naked photos of themselves approximately 50 times.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move.

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HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Learn more about HSI’s child exploitation mission @HSI_Nashville.