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Child Exploitation

2 San Diego-area men sentenced for possessing child pornography

Separate cases are part of ICE's ongoing Operation Predator

SAN DIEGO - Two local men were sentenced to federal prison terms for possession of child pornography Monday, the result of two separate investigations conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

District Court Judge Larry Burns sentenced Ryan Cabuto, a 26-year-old college student and personal trainer at 24-Hour Fitness in La Mesa, to 48 months in prison and 15 years of supervision, following his release from federal custody. In addition, the judge ordered Cabuto to register as a sex offender.

Cabuto pleaded guilty in January to possessing more than 600 images on his computer of minors, some as young as three years old, engaging in sexually explicit conduct with adults and each other.

In the second case, Christopher Lee Burgess, a 35-year-old active-duty Navy man stationed at Naval Air Station in Coronado, was sentenced to 51 months in custody by District Court Judge M. James Lorenz. Burgess was also ordered to ten years of supervision following his release from federal custody and will be required to register as a sex offender.

Burgess was arrested in January by agents from ICE and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). He pleaded guilty in March to possessing over 600 images on his computer of minors, some as young as five or six years old, engaging in sexually explicit conduct with adults and each other.

"These sentences serve as a warning to other subscribers of child pornography who think they can hide behind the Internet," said Miguel Unzueta, special agent in charge for ICE investigations in San Diego. "Internet crimes are a priority for ICE."

Over the past two months, ICE agents uncovered thousands of child pornography images from computers seized in five separate San Diego-area investigations, including 1200 images depicted on the computers belonging to Burgess and Cabuto. Prosecutions in these cases have so far resulted in federal prison sentences totaling 176 months.

The investigations are part of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE initiative to identify, investigate, arrest and, in the case of foreign nationals, deport child sex predators. Since Operation Predator was launched in 2003, it has resulted in more than 11,000 arrests nationwide, including more than 2,300 in California.

ICE encourages the reporting of suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline. The number, 1-866-DHS-2ICE, is monitored 24 hours a day. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.