Jose Hernandez-Velazquez, 55, of Van Nuys, Calif., was convicted in December of four separate counts of producing child pornography. Court documents reveal that, between January 2010 and February 2011, Hernandez-Velazquez produced videos and images showing himself engaged in sexual acts with four minor victims aged 3 to 14. Within 24 hours of receiving a tip from a private citizen, investigators seized Hernandez-Velazquez's camera and data storage devices, determined the location of the crimes, identified the victims, and obtained incriminating statements from him. The crimes occurred in Delano where Hernandez-Velazquez owned rental property.
"The prison sentence handed down today denies Hernandez-Velazquez the chance to prey on any more children," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. "Those who commit similar crimes should expect to be found, prosecuted, and removed from society."
"As this sentencing makes unmistakably clear, child sex predators will receive the justice they are due for their despicable actions," said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge of HSI Bakersfield. "We will continue to aggressively target those who prey upon and sexually exploit our children. We owe it to the young victims in these cases, who will carry the emotional and physical scars of these crimes for the rest of their lives."
At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill advised Hernandez-Velazquez that it was his intention that he "never again be allowed to be anywhere near a child. You have ruined enough lives." Hernandez-Velazquez has been in custody since his arrest on March 9, 2011.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers.
As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the "resources" tab for information about Internet safety education.