Bobby Cruz, 32, of Des Plaines, Ill., was charged in an eight-count indictment Wednesday by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Illinois. Cruz was charged with four counts of producing child pornography by enticing minors to engage in sexually explicit conduct, one count of crossing state lines to engage in a sexual act with a minor under 12, two counts of transporting child pornography, and one count of possessing child pornography.
Cruz was ordered to remain in federal custody without bond after his Nov. 1 arrest. He was initially charged with a single count of transporting child pornography after federal agents allegedly discovered illegal images on his home computer. A subsequent investigation, which resulted in the discovery of additional child victims, resulted in the new charges alleging molestation and production of child pornography.
While announcing the indictment, law enforcement officials provided the media with a photograph of Cruz in an effort to solicit information from the public pertaining to any suspicious contact that Cruz might have had with any unknown minor victims. Anyone with such information is encouraged to contact ICE HSI Special Agent Jennifer Sapper at 630-574-4941.
The Des Plaines Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office assisted in the investigation.
According to the four manufacturing counts, Cruz allegedly produced child pornography involving at three least minor victims between September 2007 and June 2009 in Des Plaines, Ill. and between March 2008 and June 2009 in Morris, Ill. The charges allege that in each of the four instances, Cruz persuaded, induced, and enticed a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct. On Oct. 22, 2010, Cruz allegedly crossed state lines to molest a minor less than 12 years of age.
The remaining counts allege that Cruz transmitted and possessed child pornography between September and November 2011. The initial complaint against Cruz alleged that on Sept. 14 he sent an email to an undercover ICE agent with an attached zip file containing about 100 images of child pornography. The investigation began when agents learned that the same email account, allegedly identified later as belonging to Cruz, was used to trade hundreds of child pornography images with an unnamed individual in December 2010. ICE agents subsequently linked the email account to Cruz's residence. On Nov. 1, agents executed a search warrant and seized a laptop computer, an external hard-drive, and other items allegedly containing numerous images and videos of alleged child pornography. The indictment seeks forfeiture of the computer equipment and other seized items.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennie Levin, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting this case.
Crossing state lines to engage in a sexual act with a minor under 12 carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum of life in prison. Each of the four counts of manufacturing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison. Transporting child pornography carries a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count; and possessing child pornography carries a 10-year maximum prison term. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This investigation is 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.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline 1-866-DHS-2ICE and 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.