DEL RIO, Texas — A former elementary teacher working for the San Felipe Independent School District in Del Rio was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in federal prison for possessing and distributing child pornography, announced by the U.S. Attorney, Robert J. Pittman, Western District of Texas.
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Ruben A. Vazquez, 40, of Del Rio, was sentenced Aug. 20 before U.S District Judge Alia Moses, who ordered him to serve 120 months in federal prison, pay a $ 5,000 fine and be placed under supervised release for ten years after completing his prison term. On Aug. 22, 2013, a jury convicted Vazquez of one count of receiving child pornography, one count of distributing child pornography and one count of access with the intent to view child pornography.
"The prevention and investigation of the exploitation of minors is a priority for HSI," said Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala, HSI San Antonio. "These investigations are pursued by dedicated special agents who not only work with the United States Attorney's Office to bring predators to justice, but work tirelessly to prevent these crimes through extensive outreach and education."
On June 21, 2012, HSI special agents executed a search warrant at the defendant's residence and seized several computers and related equipment. A forensics evaluation of the seized items revealed the presence of child pornography videos depicting minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, along with evidence of child pornography files that had previously resided on the computer.
According to court documents, Vasquez revealed that he was using peer to peer file sharing programs to access, receive and distribute videos of child pornography. During trial, law enforcement officers testified that Vazquez admitted to having more than 1,000 images and more than 100 videos of child pornography.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meghan McCalla, Ralph Paradiso and Matthew Waters, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
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 the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents 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.