Albert Garza, 53, of Delano, was previously convicted by a jury of distributing and possessing child pornography. U.S. District Court Anthony W. Ishii ordered that, upon completion of the prison term, Garza will be subject to 15 years of supervised release. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian W. Enos and Jeremy R. Jehangiri prosecuted the case.
According to court records, Garza downloaded and maintained a collection of 358 videos and 1,741 still images depicting minors engaged in various types of sexually explicit conduct. He shared the child pornography images from his computers with others on the Internet. Garza was convicted by a jury March 1 and has been in federal custody since that date.
"This sentence serves as a strong reminder that the sexual exploitation of children is a crime that will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations Bakersfield. "Those who prey on society's most vulnerable must be made to understand there are consequences for their crimes and the anonymity of cyberspace and the Internet offers no protection."
This case is the result of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which was launched to increase federal prosecution of child sex predators, and to reduce the number of Internet crimes against children including child pornography trafficking.
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 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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
As a part of Project Safe Childhood, the U.S. Attorney's Office has teamed with state and local agencies and organizations to increase law enforcement presence on the Internet, and to educate the public about safe Internet use, thereby reducing the risk that children might fall prey to online sexual predators. For additional information on the Project Safe Childhood, please go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the Project Safe Childhood coordinator.