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Child Exploitation
04/01/2011

Federal jury convicts Corpus Christi man of possessing child pornography

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A local man was convicted on Friday by a federal jury on eight counts of possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney José Angel Moreno, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD).

Gabriel Rios, 20, of Corpus Christi, Texas, was convicted April 1 on eight counts of possessing child pornography, and he was acquitted of two counts of receiving and distributing child pornography. The verdicts came after three days of trial testimony from both law enforcement and civilian witnesses.

During the trial, jurors heard testimony regarding the eight videos depicting children engaging in sexually explicit conduct as charged in the indictment. They also heard how CCPD detectives, acting in an undercover capacity, downloaded several child pornography videos via a peer-to-peer file-sharing program from an IP address linked to Rios' residence. Additionally, a computer seizure by CCPD officers and ICE HSI agents revealed 73 videos of suspected child pornography.

Jurors also heard that during the search of his home, Rios admitted using the file-sharing program, and he was aware of child pornography on the computer, but he denied any responsibility for the presence of the material on his computer. However, during trial, several civilian witnesses were called and testified that Rios was the primary user of the computer. A computer forensic examination showed the child pornography was obtained on a consistent basis over a period of many months through numerous separate downloads, and that many of the illegal videos had been downloaded more than once and previewed while being downloaded.

U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack, who presided over the trial, accepted the jurors' verdict and convicted Rios of the charges. Sentencing has been set for June 10 at 2 p.m. Rios faces a maximum of 10 years imprisonment on each of the eight counts of conviction.

Rios has been in custody since Feb. 28 after he violated the terms and conditions of the bond originally granted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Duke, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the 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.