HOUSTON — A Houston-area man pleaded guilty Sept. 27 to sexually exploiting a child and possession of child sexual abuse material following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston.

James Aubrey Zachary Wasson, 38-year-old resident of Montgomery County, pleaded guilty to the charges in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Authorities identified Wasson after discovering more than 500 files of child sexual abuse material he uploaded between March 2019 and March 2021. One folder contained a series of 51 photographs, all taken on a single date in December 2020. Some showed him in a state of sexual arousal next to a minor female child. He also appeared to be fondling her under her clothing.

A subsequent search of Wasson’s cellphone confirmed it was the device he used to produce the series of sexually explicit photographs. The phone also contained other files of child sexual abuse material taken between May 2020 and May 2021.

The minor victim also identified Wasson and recalled when he took the photographs.

Wasson is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 4, 2024. At that time, he faces between 15 and 30 years in prison for sexual exploitation of a child, and up to 10 years for possession of child sexual abuse material. Wasson will remain in custody pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Bauman is prosecuting the case.

For more news and information on HSI’s efforts to aggressively investigate child exploitation and child sexual abuse material in Southeast Texas follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @HSIHouston.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.