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Child Exploitation
04/05/2012

New Mexico retired teacher arrested on federal child pornography charges

ALBUQUERQUE – A 72-year-old retired teacher residing in Raton, N.M., was arrested on Wednesday on a criminal complaint alleging that he distributed, received and possessed child pornography between Oct. 14, 2011 and April 4.

Joseph F. Zinkiewicz made his initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Albuquerque; he is scheduled for a preliminary hearing April 6. Zinkiewicz is temporarily detained pending a detention hearing which also is scheduled for Friday.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, District of New Mexico, said that Zinkiewicz was arrested as the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that initially targeted a suspect in the District of Colorado.

According to the criminal complaint, an HSI special agent who was acting in an undercover capacity, communicated with the Colorado suspect and learned that the suspect was a member of a group that used e-mail accounts to distribute and receive child pornography. In November 2011, after the undercover special agent obtained a hard drive containing thousands of child pornography images and videos from the Colorado suspect, HSI obtained a search warrant for the e-mail account used by the Colorado suspect. HSI special agents identified the e-mail accounts of individuals, including Zinkiewicz, who allegedly shared child pornography with the Colorado suspect.

Beginning in January 2012 and continuing until March 5, 2012, the undercover special agent used the e-mail account belonging to the Colorado suspect to communicate with Zinkiewicz through his e-mail account. During these communications, Zinkiewicz sent a series of e-mails to the undercover special agent that included child pornography images and videos.

On April 4, 2012, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Zinkiewicz's residence in Raton, N.M., and seized computers and computer-media in addition to photographs and DVDs that were identified as containing child pornography. Zinkiewicz was arrested while the search warrant was being executed.

If convicted of distributing or receiving child pornography, Zinkiewicz faces a minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 40 years of imprisonment. If convicted of possessing child pornography, Zinkiewicz faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment. Zinkiewicz also faces a lifetime of supervised release following any sentence of incarceration for a child pornography offense. Zinkiewicz faces these enhanced penalties because he previously had been convicted of a child pornography offense. Zinkiewicz was convicted of distributing child pornography by the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey in January 2002.

The case was investigated by the HSI offices in Albuquerque, N.M., and Greeley, Colo., with assistance from the New Mexico State Police and the Fifth Judicial District Attorney's Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees, District of New Mexico, is prosecuting 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-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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

The case also was brought as part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force's (ICAC Task Force) mission to locate, track and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 61 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the ICAC Task Force.