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Child Exploitation

Bakersfield-area man indicted for producing child pornography

FRESNO, Calif. - A federal grand jury in Fresno returned a four-count indictment Thursday stemming from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that charges a Delano, Calif., man with producing videos and images of child pornography.

Jose Hernandez-Velazquez, 53, allegedly produced the materials between January 2010 and February 2011, including depictions of him engaged in sexual acts with minor victims aged 3 to 14.

"Child pornography victimizes children over and over again - starting with the initial assault, and continuing everyday for victims of this terrible trade," said Michael Toms, resident agent in charge for ICE HSI in Bakersfield, Calif. "HSI will continue to work closely with our colleagues here and around the world to ensure that cyberspace affords no protection for those who seek to prey upon and sexually exploit our nation's children."

If convicted, Hernandez-Velasquez faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. The charges in an indictment are only allegations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In addition to ICE HSI, the Los Angeles and the Delano police departments also participated in the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Brian W. Enos is prosecuting the case.

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 via 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. 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.

Through Project Safe Childhood (PSC), the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC mobilizes federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For additional information on the PSC initiative, go to www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.