Raul Casarez, 30, of Weslaco, was arrested and charged on Dec. 17, 2009 in the Southern District of Texas for receipt and production of child pornography. Casarez was arrested without incident at his residence.
HSI initiated the case in September 2009 after an undercover officer was able to download child pornography through a "peer to peer" program. The computer from which the images were downloaded was subsequently traced to Casarez's residence. A forensic examination of the computer, along with storage media seized pursuant to the search warrant, revealed images and movies of child pornography he received via the Internet, as well as images taken by Casarez through use of cellular telephone.
The movies and images Casarez received via the Internet depicted children under 12 years old engaged in sexually explicit conduct, including some children in "bondage." The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has identified some of the children depicted in the images as known victims. The child pornography image that Casarez produced involved a child under 18.
U.S. District Judge Ruben Hinojosa has scheduled sentencing for Casarez on Dec. 21, 2010, at 4:00 p.m. A conviction for the production of child pornography carries a punishment of up to 30 years in prison. A conviction for receipt of child pornography carries a sentence of up to 20 years imprisonment. The sentences for each offense can also result in a fine of up to $250,000 and up to a lifetime term of supervised release.
Casarez has been in custody without bond since his arrest and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
The case was investigated by HSI with the assistance of the Weslaco Police Department.
This investigation was also 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 12,800 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. This hotline is 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.