Ramon Marcelo-Valdez, 20, was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Pratt to 70 months in prison. The judge also ordered Valdez to serve a 10-year term of supervised release, and he is required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence. Valdez pleaded guilty to the receiving child pornography charge on March 30.
Charges against Valdez arose out of the large-scale investigation known as "Operation Wirebreaker," a Project Safe Childhood initiative, which was a joint effort between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies that targeted individuals using peer-to-peer file sharing programs to distribute and receive child pornography over the internet. A forensic examination conducted by HSI agents revealed 41 child pornography videos had been downloaded from the internet on Valdez' computer.
Launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood is a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshal's federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This investigation was also part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,000 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Iowa prosecuted the case.