CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local man pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The 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).
Joe Frank Rios, 45, admitted he possessed multiple videos and images of child pornography on Nov. 23, 2010, which consisted of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head presided over the hearing.
ICE HSI conducted an undercover investigation into the online activities of people trading child pornography on Oct. 18, 2010. Rios was identified as a person offering child pornography for download on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network. Agents downloaded from Rios' computer a file suspected of containing child pornography. A search warrant was obtained and executed at his Corpus Christi home on Nov. 23, 2010. Rios' computer was seized and turned over to the CCPD-ICAC which revealed the presence of child pornography.
According to court documents, during the execution of the search warrant, Rios admitted he downloaded child pornography from the Internet, and that he was addicted to child pornography. Several of the images and videos included victims previously identified as real children by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Rios has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending his sentencing hearing set for March 15, at which time he faces up to 10 years in federal prison.
This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood, which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.
As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or via its online tip form. 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.