ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A former Oklahoma police officer, who now lives in Albuquerque, pleaded guilty Wednesday to distributing and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.
Robert Mullen, 60, who once worked for the Lawton (Okla.) Police Department, was arrested Dec. 17 by HSI special agents on a criminal complaint.
On Jan. 15, Mullen was indicted on charges of distributing and possessing child pornography. The indictment alleged that Mullen committed these offenses between August and December 2013 in Bernalillo County, N.M. Mullen pleaded guilty to both counts of the indictment March 26.
According to court filings, in August 2013, a special agent with the New Mexico attorney general's office conducted an investigation targeting individuals who share child pornography on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. During this investigation, the special agent identified an Internet Protocol address which was being used to share files containing child pornography. Subsequent investigation revealed that the IP address was subscribed to Mullen at a residence in Albuquerque.
On Dec. 11, a computer and computer-related media were seized at the residence when a state search warrant was executed by HSI, the Albuquerque Police Department, and other agencies participating in the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. A preliminary forensic examination of a computer taken from a bedroom used by Mullen revealed images and videos consistent with child pornography.
Mullen has been in federal custody since his Dec. 17 arrest. He remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. Mullen faces a maximum federal prison sentence of 20 years. Mullen will be required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa A. Lizarraga, District of New Mexico.
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.