Timothy Valdez, 37, of Modesto, entered his plea in federal court Monday morning. According to court documents, in December 2011, federal agents and Canadian officials received a referral from Danish law enforcement about child pornography on the Internet that appeared to originate from North America. The child pornography was in the form of a video in which an adult male was seen molesting a young boy. Through extensive investigative work, Valdez's identity was established March 9, 2012, and he was arrested the following day.
This case is the product of an extensive probe by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Modesto Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Brian W. Enos is prosecuting the case.
"This case is a testament to the extraordinary investigative and forensic skills of HSI special agents who traced this defendant to northern California based upon video images originally viewed by law enforcement halfway around the world," said Ray Greenlee, assistant special agent in charge for HSI San Francisco. "Today's guilty plea should also be a sobering reminder to pedophiles who mistakenly believe they can escape justice by hiding in cyberspace. HSI will do everything in its power and use every tool at its disposal to keep our children safe – whether they are around the block or around the world."
Valdez sentencing is set for July 22. As part of the plea agreement, he faces a term of 30 years in prison, the maximum provided by the statute. However, the sentence is subject to the court's endorsement at the July hearing.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers.
As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 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, 1-800-843-5678.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.
Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals 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.