Mason County Contract Mail Carrier Pleads Guilty to Vehicle Smuggling Scheme | USAO-WDWA

Tacoma – A 48-year-old resident of Mason County, Washington, pleaded guilty today in US District Court in Tacoma to three federal crimes related to a smuggling scheme and possession of child pornography , announced interim US lawyer Tessa M. Gorman. Christopher M. Cox pleaded guilty to: smuggling goods into the United States; make false statements about the Clean Air Act; and possession of child pornography. Cox will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan on December 10, 2021.

According to the plea deal, between 2015 and January 2019, Cox falsified required documents on two dozen vehicles he imported from overseas. Most of the vehicles were extremely light vehicles imported from Japan that did not meet US safety standards. Cox sold some of the vehicles at contract factors he knew from his job. Cox tampered with forms claiming the vehicles met both safety standards and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Clean Air Act standards. Cox used his ID as a contract mailman to bypass inspections at the Port of Tacoma and took vehicles from the port without proper inspections. The total value of imported vehicles exceeds $ 55,000. Those who bought the vehicles were not told they were not meeting federal safety and pollution standards.

When law enforcement officers served search warrants on Cox’s email accounts, they observed images of child pornography. Some of the images are known series of child rape and abuse images made outside of Washington state. When officers executed search warrants at Cox’s residence and obtained his electronic devices, they located 142 images and 2 videos of child abuse, rape and abuse.

Smuggling goods into the United States and possession of child pornography are both punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Making false claims related to the Clean Air Act is punishable by up to 2 years in prison.

Under the terms of the plea deal, the government will not recommend more than 63 months in prison. Judge Bryan will determine the appropriate sentence after reviewing US sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations with critical assistance from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

The case is being pursued by Assistant United States Attorney Cecelia Gregson.

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