Mercer County man arrested for allegedly having 600 or more images of minors

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PRINCETON, WV (WVNS)– One man in Mercer County was arrested for possession/distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

According to the criminal complaint, Allen Ray Howerton Jr, of Princeton was taken into custody on Friday, December 10, 2021, for reportedly having more than 600 images depicting child pornography in his possession.

In June 2021, Detective-Sergeant S. A. Sommers received three cyber tips from NCMEC that contained information about minors. Snapchat, Facebook, and Dropbox alerted NCMEC of the media files that were found.

Reportedly, on June 1, Facebook reported that Howerton distributed a file of child pornography to another user within the Messenger app. The file found contained a video file.

On June 3, 2021, Dropbox reported 38 files that contained CSAM. Dropbox also found another 15 video files that allegedly depict child pornography. According to court documents, the files were uploaded beginning September 1, 2018. After a search warrant was obtained for the Dropbox account, Detective Sommers found the Dropbox folder containing 164 files within 20 different folders. The videos total length constituted more than 600 images of CSAM.

On June 7, 2021, Snapchat reported to NCMEC about a file that was found on Howerton’s account. Reportedly, the file contained an image depicting child pornography.

According to the complaint, Detective Sommers located Howerton in Princeton and he agreed to an interview at the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department. Howerton also allegedly took ownership of the accounts and information associated with the accounts. He also told deputies that he downloaded files on his cell phone that contained CSAM.

Howerton agreed to a search, and it was reported that authorities found files that constituted 600 images or more.

Howerton was charged with distribution and exhibiting of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct with more than 50 but fewer than 600 images, two counts of distribution and exhibiting of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct with 600 or more images, and distribution and exhibiting of material depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct with 50 or fewer images.

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