Jose Hernandez-Velazquez, 54, of Van Nuys, was found guilty following a two-day trial. The charges are the result of a joint investigation initiated in March 2011 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Los Angeles and Delano police departments.
Working off a tip from a private citizen, investigators collectively obtained a warrant to analyze the defendant's camera and data storage devices, identify the location of the crimes, identify the victims and obtain incriminating statements from the defendant. The probe revealed Hernandez-Velazquez had been involved in the production of child pornography in Delano from January 2010 through February 2011. After hearing the evidence, the jury deliberated for less than an hour before reaching its verdict.
Hernandez-Velazquez has been in custody since his arrest March 9, 2011. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian W. Enos and Stanley A. Boone prosecuted the case.
The defendant's sentencing is scheduled for March 11, 2013, before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill. Each count carries a maximum statutory penalty of up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
This case is a result of HSI's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Under Operation Predator, HSI is seeking 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-DHS-2ICE 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 (1-800-843-5678).
HSI is a founding member and the U.S. representative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Meanwhile under Project Safe Childhood, the Department of Justice is marshaling federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the "resources" tab for information about Internet safety education.