LUBBOCK,Texas – A former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to more than 10 years in federal prison, to be followed by a 10-year term of supervised release for receiving child pornography. This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Derrick M. Mendez, 22, pleaded guilty in October 2012 to one count of receiving child pornography. Mendez, a former member of the U.S. Navy, was arrested last summer in Hawaii where he was stationed. In October 2011, at the time of the offense, he was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas.
According to documents filed in the case, while living in San Angelo, Mendez installed peer-to-peer file-sharing software on his home computer, and then used the program to download and view numerous images and videos of child pornography. In the course of his searches, Mendez used search terms intended to locate material depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the U.S. Air Force's Office of Special Investigations.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas, was in charge of the prosecution.
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.