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Child Exploitation
09/18/2012

Former Roanoke man pleads guilty to child porn charge

ROANOKE, VA – A Virginia man pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge related to his possession of child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Paul Aragon, 53, formerly of Roanoke, Va., pleaded guilty in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke to one count of receiving or distributing child pornography.

"HSI is committed to the investigation of crimes against children. HSI will continue to diligently work with our law enforcement partners, both domestically and internationally, to identify child predators and bring them to justice, said HSI Washington, D.C., Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres."

"Protecting our children from exploitation and abuse is a fundamental priority of this department," United States Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. "Mr. Aragon perpetuated the abuse of children when he obtained and transferred these disgusting images. Those of us who work in law enforcement will continue to use all resources available to locate and prosecute those who traffic in this sort of perverse material."

According to evidence presented at the defendant's guilty plea hearing by Assistant United States Attorney Charlene Day, Aragon admitted to purchasing a membership to a website that distributed child pornography and to downloading images of children engaged in sexual acts.

Following an investigation into child pornography membership websites and IP addresses by HSI, special agents went to Aragon's Roanoke, Va., residence May 19, 2011. At that time, according to a statement of facts filed with the court yesterday, Aragon stated to special agents, "I know why you are here, I did it" and "I'm going to jail. I'm a pedophile. I want to die."

The statements of facts also states that Aragon advised special agents to take his computer and DVDs containing child pornography because he was unable to exercise the self-control needed to stop viewing it. Aragon also stated he preferred to view child pornography depicting 8-10 year-old females, but that he never acted on his sexual desires with actual children.

During the May 19 visit, special agents seized a computer, 443 DVDs and several child-sized dolls. A subsequent forensic examination revealed 2,500 images of child pornography on the seized items.

At sentencing, Aragon faces a minimum penalty of five years in prison and a maximum possible penalty of up to 20 years in prison. In addition, he faces a period of supervised release of between five years and life.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages to public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.