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Contraband
12/11/2008

ICE-led multi-agency probe dismantles Central Valley drug trafficking ring

FRESNO, Calif. - A former teacher at McLane High School in Fresno, Calif., is facing up to 30 years in prison today following his indictment by a federal grand jury on two counts each of trafficking and possessing child pornography.
The charges against Ephraim Joe Aguirre II, 28, are the result of an investigation by the Clovis and Fresno Police Departments and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The indictment alleges that, from approximately January 2007 through November 5, 2008, Aguirre used two different computers to knowingly receive, distribute, and possess images of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

According to court documents filed previously in the case, while Aguirre was a teacher at McLane High School he allegedly engaged in illegal sexual activity with a minor female student he met while teaching there. During the course of investigating those allegations, authorities examined two different computers that had been owned and used by the defendant. The computers contained thousands of images of child pornography, some depicting children as young as two years of age being sexually abused by adults. The computers also contained evidence of chats between Aguirre and numerous individuals around the world revealing the distribution and receipt of images of minors, including images of a young girl in a dog kennel and a young girl crying from the abuse being inflicted. In addition, the chats allegedly contained statements by Aguirre about having molested a four-year-old girl and a girl approximately 10 to 12 years of age. Aguirre also expressed interest in abducting, raping and murdering a child.

Prior to his employment at McLane High School, Aguirre worked as a teacher at Lawless Elementary School and at a middle school in Fresno. Detectives are continuing to examine evidence for possible victims, and anyone with relevant information is urged to contact Corporal Lonnie Amerjan with the Clovis Police Department at (559) 324-2473.

If convicted of receiving or distributing child pornography, Aguirre faces a mandatory five-year term and maximum 20-year term in prison. For the possession charge, he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison. Aguirre, who has been ordered detained as "an imminent danger" to the community, is scheduled to be arraigned December 18 at 1:30 p.m.

ICE's participation in the investigation is part of the agency's initiative known as Operation Predator, an ongoing enforcement effort targeting those who sexually exploit children. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,000 individuals nationwide. The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity by contacting ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; and NCMEC, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.