A Portland man who has been under investigation for months as a suspected drug dealer and pimp in a prostitution operation in Maine and New York was arrested by federal authorities in Maine on Thursday on a charge of sexual exploitation of children.

Paul Henry, 24, was brought to U.S. District Court in Portland following his arrest for an initial appearance on the charge and was ordered held by Magistrate Judge John Rich III pending a detention hearing next week. He was not required to enter a plea at Thursday’s hearing.

Henry’s arrest on the child exploitation charge stems from three videos he took of himself having sex with a 15-year-old Portland girl earlier this year, two videos taken on Jan. 25 and another on Jan. 26, according to court documents unsealed after Henry’s arrest.

Although Henry’s arrest on the federal charge is only indirectly related to allegations against him for drug dealing and prostituting women, details of that investigation came to light for the first time in the newly unsealed documents. Those federal documents reference an affidavit filed in earlier this year by Portland police at the Cumberland County Courthouse seeking a search warrant for Henry’s phone that provides even more details.

Portland police came across those videos on Henry’s iPhone after receiving a tip on Feb. 12 from a federal agent in Detroit that a 19-year-old missing woman from Michigan, who is mildly developmentally disabled, was being held against her will at a Portland hotel and was being pimped out in the Portland area by unidentified men. Portland police began visiting hotels and motels in Portland until they located the woman and Henry in a hotel room at Motel 6 on Riverside Street, according to an affidavit filed in federal court by Agent David Pawson, a Homeland Security investigator.

The woman told police that she had worked as a prostitute in the past in New York City and that Henry approached her on Feb. 9 as she was walking around in Brooklyn and asked her to come work for him as a prostitute, first in Boston and then in Portland, according to the search warrant affidavit filed by Portland police Officer Daniel Townsend in state court.

“(The woman) said her movements were controlled while she was in the room, and Henry had told her she was not allowed to make outgoing calls. (The woman) described Henry threatening her multiple times over the course of the previous three or four days that she was staying in the hotel room,” Townsend wrote in the search warrant affidavit.

The woman also told police that Henry had forced her to have sex with him, that she thought he had a gun and that he forced her to smuggle crack cocaine inside her body, according to Townsend’s affidavit.

Police obtained a search warrant for Henry’s phone later in February and as Portland police reviewed the pictures and videos saved on the phone, one of the officers recognized the 15-year-old girl in the three sex videos. Henry appears to have recorded the sex videos himself, and two of them show his face, according to federal court documents.

If Henry, also known as “LT” and “Bro,” is convicted of the charge of sexual exploitation of children, he faces a minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

As of Thursday, Henry had not been charged at the state level, though the Portland police search warrant affidavit indicates he was being targeted for charges of aggravated sex trafficking, a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, and aggravated drug trafficking, punishable by up to 30 years in state prison.

Portland Police Lt. James Sweatt, a spokesman for the department, declined to comment on the case.

At the time of Henry’s arrest Thursday, court records indicate he was out on bail from another case in Massachusetts.

Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at:

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Twitter: @scottddolan