LUBBOCK, Texas - A man from Austin, Texas, was sentenced on Friday to 327 months (more than 27 years) in federal prison, following his guilty plea in December 2009 to one count each of producing and transporting child pornography. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the investigation with other local agencies.
James Vallejo Salazar, 25, was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to serve a lifetime of supervised release following his incarceration. Salazar has been in custody since his arrest in September 2009 at his home in Austin.
According to plea documents filed, Salazar admitted that about May 2009 he met a 15-year-old girl (Jane Doe) from Big Spring, Texas, on MySpace.com, an Internet social networking website. Salazar and Jane Doe continued to communicate with each other, primarily by telephone chat (SMS, or short messaging service). When they first met, Jane Doe told Salazar she was 15 years old.
A few months later, about July 2009, the communications between Salazar and 15-year-old Jane Doe became sexual in nature. Salazar and Jane Doe began discussing plans to have her move to Austin to live with Salazar. Jane Doe would also bring her infant daughter, Jane Doe 2, who was less than a year old, to live with her and Salazar.
From late August through early September 2009, Salazar requested, via text messaging from his cell phone, that Jane Doe produce sexually explicit photographs of Jane Doe 2. Jane Doe received the messages at her residence in Big Spring, Texas.
In addition, regarding the transportation conviction, Salazar also transported child pornography, by telephone to Jane Doe in Big Spring. On Sept. 4, 2009, between 11:02 p.m., and 11:05 p.m., Salazar sent Jane Doe a computer image depicting a female child under the age of 18 engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
On Sept. 11, 2009, a search warrant was executed at Salazar's residence in Austin. He was cooperative with law enforcement agents. When questioned by ICE agents, Salazar said that he had received the sexually explicit image of the infant girl (Jane Doe 2), as he had requested, but he deleted the image after receiving it.
This case was investigated by ICE San Angelo and Austin, Texas; the Big Spring Police Department, and Texas Child Protective Services. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy, Northern District of Texas Lubbock Office, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
This case was also brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.