MACON, Ga. (WRBL) – A middle Georgia resident was sentenced to over six years in prison for possessing child sexual assault material after an ongoing investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to tackle child exploitation online.

John Wesley Mitchem, 31, of Thomaston, Georgia, received 80 months in prison and ten years of supervised release on May 3, 2022, after pleading guilty to one count of possession of child pornography.

Additionally, U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell required Mitchem to register as a sex offender after being released from prison.

According to court records and evidence presented in court, HSI’s Child Exploitation Investigation Group in Atlanta, Georgia, received information from HSI in Detroit, Michigan, detailing an individual using the Kik application to contact and send three images of child sexual assault material to an undercover HSI agent.

Agents identified the sender as Mitchem and later searched his residence on March 13, 2020. A forensic examination of Mitchem’s devices revealed six images and one video of child sexual exploitation material of infants and toddlers.

Mitchem confessed that he shared the three images with the undercover agent using his cellphone from his residence.

The case is a part of Project Safe Childhood, and HSI Atlanta, with assistance from HSI Detroit, investigated Mitchem’s case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Kalim prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.