HSI-led investigation results in lengthy prison sentence for child exploitation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — An east Tennessee man who coerced minor victims into sending him sexually explicit images will spend 30 years in federal prison for his offenses.

The sentence was announced by the acting U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee.

The investigation was conducted by the Homeland Security Investigations and Knoxville Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit.

According to documents on file with the court, Preston Andrew Watson, 30, of Scott County, Tennessee, duped, extorted and threatened minors located in the United States and abroad to obtain sexually explicit images from them. He met his victims on social media websites, developed an online relationship with them and requested they send him sexually explicit images of themselves. If the victims refused to comply with his demands for more sexually explicit images, Watson threatened to send the sexually explicit images they had already provided him to social media websites.

Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (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.

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.

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