Dagoberto Castaneda, 33, a citizen of El Salvador and a resident of Pikesville, Md., was sentenced March 16 by U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar to three years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release. As a consequence of his conviction, Castaneda will be subject to removal from the United States when he has completed serving his sentence. Judge Bredar ordered that upon his release from prison, Castaneda must register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.
According to the plea agreement, on Feb. 28, 2011, an undercover Baltimore County detective downloaded three video files and a "shared" folder from Castaneda's computer file-sharing programs. On March 15, 2011, officers executed a search warrant at Castaneda's residence and seized a laptop and desktop computer, along with their hard drives, which were found to contain more than 600 images of minors, including minors under the age of 12, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Castaneda had been running a variety of file-sharing programs over an extended period of time. There were 1,580 upload sessions involving others receiving files from Castaneda on one file-sharing program, and Castaneda had run 582 download sessions.
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-DHS-2ICE or its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC and internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.
The Baltimore County State's Attorney's Office assisted in the investigation and prosecution.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok.