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Child Exploitation

Chicago-area man charged with transporting child pornography

CHICAGO - A Chicago man was arrested Tuesday and charged with transporting child pornography via computer after federal agents searched his residence and found images of alleged child pornography. These charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Bobby Cruz, 32, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of Illinois. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys in U.S. District Court and was ordered to remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing Nov. 4.

According to the complaint affidavit, Cruz sent an email on Sept. 14 to an undercover ICE HSI agent with an attached zip file containing about 100 images of child pornography. The investigation began when agents learned that this same email account, later identified as belonging to Cruz, was used to trade hundreds of child pornography images with an unnamed individual in December 2010.

ICE HSI agents linked the email account to Cruz's residence in Des Plaines, according to the affidavit. During the search on Tuesday, agents conducted a preliminary review of a laptop computer and an external hard-drive. During this search, they discovered numerous images and videos of alleged child pornography.

Asst. U.S. Attorney Jennie Levin, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case.

Transporting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, as well as a fine up to $250,000. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

The investigation is part of ICE'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 marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or via its online tip form. 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.