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Child Exploitation
01/06/2014

Previously convicted Modesto sex offender pleads guilty to child pornography charges

FRESNO, Calif. – A convicted sex offender from Modesto faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography, following a probe by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task force, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.

Alberto Morales, 31, of Modesto, entered his guilty plea in federal court Monday. According to court documents, on Feb. 1, 2013, Morales possessed between 300 and 600 images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The images also involved the portrayal of sadistic, masochistic, and other depictions of violence, and included depictions of pre-pubescent minors.

Morales is scheduled to be sentenced March 17 by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian W. Enos is prosecuting the case.

"Tragically, this case is not an anomaly – it’s all too common for child sexual predators to reoffend," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Fresno. "That’s why HSI and its law enforcement partners must remain unceasingly vigilant. It’s the only way to protect our youth and ensure that individuals, like this defendant, are held accountable for their crimes."

The case against Morales is a product of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers; and Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice effort launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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.

Led by the United States 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.justice.gov/psc. Click on the "resources" tab for information about Internet safety.