09/27/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/27/2023 08:40
ST. LOUIS - A man from St. Louis County, Missouri appeared in court this week to answer charges accusing him of coercing children overseas into engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
Sanel Smajlovic was indicted Sept. 13 on four counts of attempted production of child pornography. The indictment accuses of Smajlovic of coercing a total of six minors on four occasions in 2018 and 2019 into engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
A motion seeking to have Smajlovic held in jail until trial says Homeland Security Investigations identified traffickers in the Philippines who were providing access to pre-produced child sexual abuse material as well as live-streaming the sexual abuse of children to paying customers worldwide. Smajlovic directed the sexual abuse of children and then paid the adults who provided the children, the motion says. The motion calls it part of a growing transnational child-sexual-abuse industry and says the Smajlovic case is part of a larger investigation.
Smajlovic was arrested at St. Louis Lambert International Airport Sunday upon his arrival on an international flight. He pleaded not guilty to the charges at an appearance in U.S. District Court in St. Louis Monday.
Charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case, with the assistance of forensic specialists from the Justice Department Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and the Missouri State Technical Assistance Team. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Chapman is prosecuting the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.