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Child Exploitation

Former US Air Force sergeant sentenced to 80 months for child pornography conviction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A federal judge Thursday sentenced a former U.S. Air Force sergeant to 80 months in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for his child pornography conviction.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.

Christopher Garcia, 34, of Clovis, N.M., must also register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.

Garcia was indicted in July 2012 and charged with three counts of receiving, and three counts of possessing child pornography. According to the indictment, Garcia received and possessed child pornography between Dec. 12, 2011 and Jan. 17, 2012 in Curry County, N.M. At the time, Garcia was a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base.

On Nov. 16, 2012, Garcia pleaded guilty to receiving a visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. During his plea hearing, Garcia acknowledged he was charged as the result of an undercover investigation that began in January 2012, and targeted individuals who possess, receive and distribute child pornography.

As a result of this investigation, a search warrant to seize computers and computer media was executed at Garcia's residence Jan. 17, 2012. While the search warrant was executed, Garcia voluntarily participated in a recorded interview during which he admitted he had been downloading and viewing child pornography for about two years. Garcia also acknowledged that a forensic examination of his computers and computer media identified thousands of images and videos consistent with child pornography.

The Curry County Sheriff's Office and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory also participated in the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees, District of New Mexico, prosecuted this case.

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 the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.

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.