An international child pornography network first discovered in Massachusetts has come full circle with another local arrest, this time in Worcester, according to federal court documents.
Geoffrey R. Portway, 39, was arrested Friday after federal agents and state troopers searched his home and seized computers that allegedly contained images of child pornography and dead children. He was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography, and a detention hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, the US attorney’s office said.
Portway is being held by Worcester police, according to an affidavit written by Peter Manning, a special agent with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations.
Worldwide, 43 men have now been arrested on child pornography charges as the result of an investigation that started in 2009 after Robert Diduca, a hotel manager from Milford, mistakenly sent a photo of an abused 18-month-old boy to federal investigators. The Globe published a story Sunday that detailed the investigation and has also helped to identify at least 140 exploited children.
The toddler in the photo sent by Diduca to agents was later identified as being from the Netherlands. That information helped Dutch police locate Robert Mikelsons, a Latvian-born day care provider who eventually confessed to molesting dozens of children in the Amsterdam area. Both Diduca and Mikelsons have since been sentenced to 18 years in prison in separate cases.
In May, Michael Arnett of Kansas was charged with possession and production of child pornography, including images of young children being “sexually abused and bound and gagged,’’ according to a federal court document.
Portway allegedly chatted online with Arnett, as well as with Ronald William Brown, a Florida puppeteer who was arrested in July on charges of conspiring to kidnap a child and possessing child pornography. Prosecutors say Arnett and Brown discussed killing and eating children.
On Monday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton said the investigation is far from over.
“Each new predator we put behind bars leads us to yet another person attempting to exploit children,” Morton said.