Mark Jay Ashcroft

BONIFAY – A Bonifay man was arrested Monday after law enforcement discovered 288 videos of child pornography at his residence.

According to a news release from Holmes County Sheriff's Office, a search warrant was served at the 1486 N. Highway 79 residence of Mark Jay Ashcroft, 55. During the execution of the search, a computer was observed running a file sharing program, actively downloading and transferring numerous files.

A secure preview of the active device revealed 288 videos depicting explicit imagery of numerous children between the ages of 7 and 15, the release stated. Numerous other hard drives and electronic devices were also seized at the home.

Law enforcement officials believe the bust is one of the largest online distribution hubs of child pornography in the area, according to the release.

Ashcroft, who admitted to downloading and distributing the images, was arrested and charged with 288 counts of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography transmitted via an electronic device, the release stated. Forensic examination of other items seized is ongoing with investigators anticipating the discovery of more illicit images related to child exploitation.

The arrest came as a cooperative effort between Holmes County Sheriff's Office, Walton County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the North Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICACT).

The six-week operation began after investigators with WCSO observed videos and images of child pornography being downloaded and distributed through a file-sharing network from a hub first thought to be located in Walton County. Further investigation revealed the activity to be taking place at Ashcroft's residence.

Ashcroft is currently being held at the Holmes County Jail on a $2.8 million bond for 288 counts related to possession and distribution of child pornography.

Holmes County Sheriff John Tate stated in the release that he would like to thank WCSO, ICACT, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for their assistance in the investigation.