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Child Exploitation

Army recruiter pleads guilty to distributing child pornography

Defendant agrees to 11-year prison term

FRESNO, Calif. - A sergeant in the Army Reserves, who was employed as a military recruiter, pleaded guilty in U.S District Court today to one count of receiving and distributing child pornography.

Ramon Santos, Jr., of Lemoore, Calif., agreed to serve a 135-month prison term as part of the plea agreement. Santos' formal sentencing is scheduled for October 31.

The case resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Palm Beach County (Florida) Sheriff's Department, the Fresno Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Fresno County Sheriff's Department Computer Crimes Unit and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Santos' crime came to light when Florida investigators, analyzing a seized computer, linked the defendant to an America Online e-mail account used to send images of child pornography to one or more people. Subsequently, investigators executed a search warrant at the defendant's residence at the Naval Air Station Lemoore and recovered numerous images of child pornography showing violence and children as young as three years being sexually abused. According to court documents, one of the pornographic videos was nearly 30 minutes in length.

ICE's involvement in the investigation is part of the agency's initiative known as Operation Predator, an ongoing enforcement effort targeting those who prey upon and sexually exploit our nation's children - including Internet pornographers, international sex tourists, and foreign national sexual predators. Since the initiative's launch five years ago, ICE special agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals nationwide.

ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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 www.cybertipline.com.