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Child Exploitation

El Centro man indicted for sexual exploitation of young girls

El Centro man indicted for sexual exploitation of young girls

SAN DIEGO — Federal authorities are seeking the public's assistance to help identify potential juvenile victims as part of an ongoing child sexual exploitation probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Damian C. Mora, 30, of El Centro, was indicted April 10 by a federal grand jury for sexual exploitation of a minor. He was taken into custody April 9 after HSI special agents executed a search warrant at the El Centro home where he had resided since January. Prior to moving to the Imperial Valley, Mora was longtime resident of Mexicali, Mexico.

During the search, agents seized multiple videos of minors engaged in sexual acts with adults. Mora's collection of child pornography also included images showing the sexual exploitation of children as young as 2, which were found on his desktop computer.

"Combatting the sexual exploitation of children over the Internet will always be a top priority for HSI," said Derek Benner, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. "The best way to protect innocent children from online sexual predators is for law enforcement, educators, parents and concerned citizens to join forces and fight back."

If convicted, Mora faces up to 10 years in prison and maximum lifetime supervised released. Mora's next court hearing is May 17 in San Diego District court.

According to the court records, suspicions about Mora's activities first arose during a probe targeting an online forum that encouraged users to post their sexual fantasies about young girls. Mora had joined the online forum in 2011 and posted numerous sexually explicit comments about his interest in young girls, often boasting about his collection of child pornography under the user name of girlover82.

HSI is asking anyone with information related to the defendant or the ongoing investigation to contact ICE's toll-free tip line at 1-866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423).

This case is being conducted as part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers. As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line or by completing 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.

In the first six months of fiscal year 2013, HSI child sexual exploitation investigations nationwide resulted in the arrest of more than 960 suspects and the rescue of more than 330 juvenile victims. Nineteen of the suspects were arrested in San Diego and Imperial counties.