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Child Exploitation

Former choir teacher sentenced to 23 years for sexually exploiting children

BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A former school choir teacher was sentenced on Tuesday to 23 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting children, announced U.S. Attorney Jose Angel Moreno of the Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Brownsville Independent School District (BISD) Police Department, and the Weslaco Police Department (WPD).

Ramiro C. Lozano, 47, of Brownsville was sentenced to 235 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle; he was also ordered to serve a 10-year term of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.

An investigation futhered by BISD police department resulted in the indictment of Lozano in July 2009. On Oct. 13, 2009, Lozano pleaded guilty to having persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced three then 13-year-old boys to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct. Before he formally pleaded guilty, Lozano admitted on June 3, 2008, and again on Nov. 20, 2008, that he committed the offense.

Lozano has been in federal custody and will remain in custody until he serves his sentence.

The ICE investigation began when WPD officers arrested Lozano on Dec. 21, 2008, for public intoxication after finding him asleep in his parked car. An inventory search of Lozano's car resulted in officers discovering several pornographic DVDs along with a laptop computer and a digital camera containing numerous images of child pornography. Lozano admitted that he owned the items, and that he photographed the three young boys exposing their genitals. During the investigation, the three young boys depicted in the images were identified and interviewed by investigators.

Lozano admitted to persuading the boys, who were about 13-years-old at the time of the offense, to expose their genitalia and thereafter photographing each of the boy's genitalia. Lozano took the photographs at Besteiro Middle School in Brownsville. WPD found the laptop computer and the digital camera used to take the pictures of the young boys in Lozano's vehicle in December 2008.

This investigation is 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.

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.

This case was also brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys' offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Megan Paulson, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

For more information, visit www.ice.gov.