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Texas Child Predator Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

A north Texas man, who is a registered sex offender, was sentenced Wednesday, September 5, 2012, by U.S. District Judge Barbara M. G. Lynn to 30 years in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release. This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Adam Joshua Cortez, 31, is most recently a resident of Justin, Texas. He was sentenced following his conviction at trial in May. In July 2011, Cortez used the Internet and a cell phone to try to entice an individual he believed to be a 14-year-old girl to have sex with him. That individual, however, was an undercover police officer.

Cortez had been twice convicted in state courts of offenses similar to child enticement in 2002 and 2004. In fact, the second of those convictions occurred while he was on probation for committing the first.

This case was investigated by the Garland Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa J. Miller and Leigha A. Simonton, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Man Arrested for Attempted International Child Abduction

An Illinois man who traveled to Texas to allegedly have sex with a 14-year-old girl was arrested Tuesday, August 21, 2012, following a sting operation conducted by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office in Texas. The following agencies are assisting in this investigation: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Sugar Land Police Department, and the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office.

James Wean Jr., 49, is charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping after being arrested near a gas station in Pin Oak, Texas, the evening of Aug. 21.

For the past two weeks Wean had been communicating online with a Sheriff’s office special crimes detective who was posing as a teenage girl. Wean drove to Texas from his home in Pearl City, Ill., a small town southwest of Springfield, Ill., near the Missouri border.

Wean originally was communicating with a real girl in Texas. When her parents noticed a strange exchange on Facebook they took away the girl’s electronic devices and called the Sheriff’s office. The indication given to the detective online was that Wean was planning to take the girl away, possibly out of the country.

A team of detectives and deputies captured Wean near a gas station not far from Interstate 10. He is being held in the Fort Bend County Jail without bond and was scheduled to appear before a magistrate Thursday, August 23, 2012.

A second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years of incarceration with a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Elderly Texas Woman Arrested for International Marriage Fraud Scheme

A Edinburg, Texas, woman was charged Thursday, June 21, 2012 with conspiracy to commit marriage fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Santos Botello, 76, was arrested June 20 and appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dorina Ramos June 21 to face formal charges related to marriage fraud. Judge Ramos has set her bond hearing for June 22.

According to court documents, Botello was allegedly arranging sham marriages between foreign nationals and U.S. citizens for profit since 2002. Foreign nationals allegedly hired Botello to help them obtain residency status in the United States by arranging sham marriages with U.S. citizens.

The complaint goes on to state that Botello committed marriage fraud by arranging marriages between couples when they did not intend to establish a life together and were only seeking immigration benefits. Botello paid U.S. citizens to participate in the sham marriages, according to the complaint. She allegedly completed immigration paperwork and instructed them on how to present themselves to immigration officers. Botello told them to get a common law marriage certificate, and take pictures together; and she instructed couples how to answer questions at their immigration interview, the complaint states.

By filing a petition with USCIS, U.S. citizens may seek residency for an alien relative. These petitions are legal and permit a U.S. citizen to bring his or her close relative, such as a spouse, to the United States. Marriage fraud occurs when this petition for residency is filed, but the bride and groom do not intend to establish a life together at the time they are married.

The charge of marriage fraud carries a penalty of up to five years in prison, a maximum $250,000 fine and up to a three-year-term of supervised release.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristen Rees and Kimberly Leo, Southern District of Texas, are prosecuting the case.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until convicted through due process of law.

 
 

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Texas Man Sentenced for Child Pornography

A local man was sentenced to more than 5 years in prison for possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Armando Ruben Avila, 48, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal to 65 months in prison to be followed by a life term of supervised release. Avila will also have to register as a sex offender and was ordered to pay $3,000 restitution to one of the Internet victims found in his collection. Avila pleaded guilty to the charges Oct. 25.

The investigation began when HSI special agents received information regarding a commercial child pornography website. Special agents determined the company to be a pay-for-access commercial website offering child pornography in a variety of media formats, including still images, VHS and DVD videos. Paid membership to this website was secured by sending a Western Union moneygram to individuals in Russia. One of the moneygram payments was tracked to Avila.

On Oct. 14, 2009, HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at Avila’s Houston residence, at which time an HP Pavilion desktop and a Toshiba laptop were seized. Also at that time, Avila admitted to searching for and downloading child pornography on the Internet.

A forensic exam revealed images of child pornography on both computers. At least 4,000 images and 50 videos of child pornography were found. Some of the images depicted prepubescent girls engaging in sexual intercourse and oral sex with adult males.

Previously released on bond, Avila was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

 
 

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Texas Man Sentenced for Child Pornography

A west Texas man was sentenced Friday, March 30, to seven years and three months in federal prison following his guilty plea in late December 2011 to transporting child pornography.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Tomas Lira Jr., 46, a resident of San Angelo, Texas, has been in custody since his October 2011 arrest.

According to documents filed in the case, Lira admitted that in August 2011 he posted an Internet ad on Craigslist.com in the personal category, “Men seeking men,” under the title, “looking for a son.” A HSI special agent, acting in an undercover capacity and posing as a 15-year-old, responded to the ad and asked Lira what kind of “stuff he was into.” The two communicated by e-mail and text messaging, discussing sexual matters on several occasions. Lira advised he was into gay porn and preferred young males whom he referred to as “twinks.” On Aug. 20, 2011, Lira texted an image of child pornography to the undercover special agent.

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings also sentenced Lira to a 10-year period of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Lubbock, Texas, prosecuted this case.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

 
 

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Texas Man Arrested and Charged for Child Pornography

A north Texas man was arrested Friday, March 30, by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) for possessing child pornography. The arrest was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña, Northern District of Texas.

Keller,Texas, resident Marco A. Flores, 19, remains in federal custody pending an April 4 detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Jeffrey L. Cureton in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth.

According to the affidavit filed with the March 29 complaint, the investigation began when an undercover officer with the Fort Worth Police Department’s Crimes Against Children Unit used computer file-sharing software to download child pornography video files and still images. The video and images originated from an IP address assigned to a Keller residence. Special agents executed a search warrant at the residence and seized several computers. Flores, who lived in the residence, admitted using file-sharing software, but initially denied involvement with child pornography. However, a forensic examination of the evidence identified files containing child pornography, and Flores admitted possessing child pornography.

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged, and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. If convicted of this offense, however, Flores faces a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and a lifetime of supervised release. The U.S. Attorney’s office has 30 days to present the matter to a grand jury for indictment.

HSI and the Fort Worth Police Department are investigating this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Aisha Saleem is in charge of the prosecution.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE, or by completing its online tip form. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.

 
 

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