According to court documents, the investigation began when the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children received a tip that a specific Internet protocol (IP) address was engaged in distributing child pornography. Law enforcement officials determined the location of the IP address and interviewed Carlos Manuel Cruz, 40. During the interview, Cruz admitted he downloaded and viewed child pornography. A search warrant revealed Cruz had more than 27 images and six videos depicting the sexual exploitation of children in his possession.
"Each time a person views an image or video of child pornography, that child is victimized again," said Susan McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. "This individual has been held accountable for his actions; he will spend the next five years behind bars – a place where he can no longer victimize innocent children."
Cruz pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography April 15.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
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.