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Child Exploitation

Bradenton man sentenced to 27 years for producing child pornography

TAMPA, Fla. — A Bradenton man was sentenced Friday to 27 years in federal prison for producing child pornography. The sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office and the Bradenton Police.

Heriberto Pena-Salazar, 25, must also serve 15 years of supervised release and register as a sex offender.

According to court documents, in May 2012, Pena-Salazar persuaded a pre-pubescent female to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce a visual depiction of the act. Law enforcement recovered a video on Pena-Salazar's cell phone of him performing sexual acts on a minor. His face is visible in the video. During an interview, he admitted he abused the child and stated that he did so to trade the video for child pornography from others.

A forensic review of the computer laptops and hard drive seized from Pena-Salazar revealed 600 videos and 400 images of child pornography, including files depicting pre-pubescent children and sadomasochistic conduct.

"The exploitation of children is one of the most heinous crimes we investigate," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "This case was especially egregious, and as a result, this man will serve nearly 30 years in prison. Let this case serve as a warning to individuals who prey on innocent children – we will find you, arrest you and ensure you are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

Pena-Salazar, a Mexican national, is illegally present in the United States.

A jury found Salazar guilty Oct. 2.

This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.