Tacoma – A 48– year-old Mason County, Washington resident was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 30 days in custody for three federal felonies related to a smuggling scheme and possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. In September 2021, Christopher M. Cox pleaded guilty to: smuggling goods into the U.S.; making false statements related to the Clean Air Act; and possession of child pornography. At today’s sentencing hearing U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan ordered Cox to register as a sex offender and placed him on five years of supervised release following his incarceration.
Prosecutors had asked the court to sentence Mr. Cox to two years in prison.
“Mr. Cox was a danger to the community on multiple fronts. He abused a position of trust and endangered his colleagues by selling unsafe vehicles and ignoring air pollution control efforts,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “The vehicles he imported and sold did not meet safety or air quality standards. These crimes, along with his possession of images of child rape and abuse, demonstrate he poses serious safety concerns. We advocated for a lengthier punishment for Mr. Cox to best protect the community and are disappointed by today’s sentence.”
According to records filed in the case, between approximately 2015 and January 2019, Cox falsified the required paperwork on two dozen vehicles he imported from overseas. Many of the vehicles were extremely light vehicles imported from Japan that did not meet U.S. safety standards. Cox sold some of the vehicles to contract mail carriers he knew from his job. Cox falsified the forms that claimed the vehicles met both safety standards and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act standards. Cox used his identification as a contract mail carrier to circumvent inspections at the Port of Tacoma and took the vehicles from the Port without proper inspections. The total value of the imported vehicles exceeds $55,000. Those who bought the vehicles were not told that they failed to meet federal safety and pollution standards.
“The defendant’s intentional disregard for the law included an attempt to deceive law enforcement” said Scot Adair, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Washington. “The American public relies on accurate information on products being imported into this country to help protect the environment and the consumer.”
When law enforcement officers served search warrants on Cox’s electronic accounts, they observed images of child pornography. Some of the images are known series of images of child rape and abuse manufactured outside the State of Washington. When officers executed search warrants on Cox’s residence and obtained his electronic devices, they located 142 images and 2 videos of child molestation, rape and abuse.
“Mr. Cox thrived through deceitful actions. He prioritized personal profit over the environment all while taking gratitude in the sexual exploitation of children,” said Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “We’re thankful to our partners at the EPA, CBP and U.S. Attorney’s Office for investigating and prosecuting the case.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID), the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Transportation, and Homeland Security Investigations with critical assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Cecelia Gregson