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Child Exploitation

Former Air Force sergeant arrested on federal child pornography charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A local man made his initial appearance in federal court Friday, one day after special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arrested him on child pornography charges.

Christopher Garcia, 33, of Clovis, N.M., a former sergeant with the U.S. Air Force, is charged with possessing child pornography. He is temporarily detained pending an arraignment and detention hearing scheduled for Monday.

On Thursday, a federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging Garcia with receiving and possessing child pornography.

The indictment alleges that Garcia received and possessed child pornography in Curry County, N.M., between Dec. 12, 2011 and Jan. 17, 2012. During that time, Garcia was a sergeant with the U.S. Air Force assigned to the 16th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base.

If convicted, Garcia faces a maximum penalty of 20 years for each of three counts of receiving child pornography, and 10 years for each of three counts of possessing child pornography. He also faces up to a lifetime of supervised release, and would be required to register as a sex offender.

The Clovis County (N.M.) Sheriff's Office and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory also participated in the case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees. An indictment is only an accusation. A criminal defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI 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. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.