Gabriel Rios, 20, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Janis Graham Jack to 120 months in federal prison without parole, the statutory maximum punishment. Rios was convicted on eight counts of possessing child pornography. The prison term will be followed by a life-term of supervised release and registration as a sex offender.
Following a trial, Rios was convicted by a jury on March 31 on all eight counts of possessing child pornography alleged in a 10-count indictment, and acquitted on one count of receiving and one count of distributing child pornography.
Law enforcement and civilian witnesses testified that Rios possessed eight videos of children engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The jurors heard testimony that Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD) detectives, acting undercover, downloaded several videos of child pornography via a peer-to-peer file-sharing program from an IP address linked to Rios' residence.
CCPD officers and ICE HSI special agents executed a search warrant at Rios residence and seized a computer. A forensic analysis of the computer hard drive revealed 73 videos depicting images of child pornography. The jury also heard that Rios admitted to investigative agents that he had used the file-sharing program and was aware there was child pornography on his computer. However, Rios denied responsibility for its presence.
The government called several civilian witnesses who testified that Rios was the primary user of the computer. Forensic experts testified about their examination of Rios' computer; they told the jury that the pornography found on the computer was obtained on a consistent basis over a period of many months through numerous downloads. They also testified that many of the videos had been downloaded more than once and previewed while being downloaded.
The graphic nature of the child pornography videos possessed by Rios of children who had been raped and sodomized, as well as his lack of remorse and acceptance of responsibility for his crimes, contributed to the maximum prison term being imposed.
Rios, who was originally released on bond following his arrest, has been in federal custody without bond since February after he violated the bond conditions imposed by the court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Duke, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was 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 at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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.