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Child Exploitation

Southeast Texas man pleads guilty to distributing child pornography

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A 40-year-old man from Odem, Texas, pleaded guilty in federal court on Monday to distributing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Corpus Christi Police Department's Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (CCPD-ICAC).

Fernando Garcia was indicted on Aug. 24 with distributing images and videos of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. On Jan. 27, 2011, an ICE HSI agent, acting in an undercover capacity, downloaded several images of child pornography and traced them back to an account belonging to Garcia.

A search warrant was executed on Garcia's home by ICE HSI agents and members of the CCPD-ICAC. At that time, Garcia advised the law enforcement officers that they would discover numerous images of child pornography on the computers seized. Several computers were seized and subjected to forensic analysis resulting in the discovery of more than 3,200 still images and 300 videos of child pornography.

Garcia will be in federal custody pending his sentencing hearing which is set for March 15 before Senior U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE 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.

ICE 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.

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 www.cybertipline.com.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Duke, Southern District of Texas, is prosecuting the case.