Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.
Nelson Begay, 32, was arrested Nov. 13, 2013 on a criminal complaint charging him with receiving and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Shortly before his arrest, Begay resigned from his position as an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department.
On Dec. 4, Begay was indicted and charged with receiving and possessing child pornography. The indictment alleged that he received child pornography November 2012 and April 2013, and that he possessed child pornography November 2013, in Bernalillo County, N.M.
According to court documents, in September 2013, a special agent with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office was conducting an investigation targeting those who share child pornography on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. During this investigation, the special agent identified an Internet Protocol address that was being used to share files containing child pornography. Subsequent investigation revealed that the IP address was subscribed to Begay at a residential address in Albuquerque.
Court records also reflect that on Nov. 7, HSI and other agencies participating in the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force executed a federal search warrant at Begay's residence and seized computers and computer-related media. A forensic examination of a laptop computer taken from a bedroom used by Begay recovered images consistent with child pornography.
During the March 26 hearing, Begay pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography. In his plea agreement, Begay admitted that on Nov. 1, 2012 he used file-sharing software to download and share child pornography, including a 30-minute video that was a compilation of many video clips of minors performing various sexual acts.
Begay has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. He faces a maximum of 20 years in federal prison. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Begay will be required to pay $1,000 in restitution to one of the victims whose image appears in the 30-minute video. Begay also will be required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, HSI agents arrested more than 2,000 individuals under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.
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.