EL PASO, Texas — A former high school dance instructor was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 50 years in federal prison Jan. 12, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for the sexual exploitation of children and distribution of child pornography.
Marco Antonio Alferez' sentence was the culmination of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and other law enforcement, as well as the participation of non-governmental agencies.
In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone granted a monetary judgment against the 35-year-old in the amount of $248,359.02.
According to the factual basis filed in this case, and admitted to by Alferez, ICE HSI special agents assigned to the Cyber Crimes Group executed a search warrant at his residence Sept. 21, 2010.
ICE HSI special agents seized Alferez's computer and more than 100 videotapes. A subsequent forensics review of the computer revealed 98 child pornography videos downloaded from the Internet. The computer also contained about 150 self-produced, hidden camera videos depicting children in a dressing area during various stages of undress, including full nudity. In each of the self-produced videos, the defendant can be seen initially setting up the hidden camera and oftentimes heard off camera giving instructions to his students that they were required to take all of their clothes off in order to try on clothing he supplied.
The videotapes also contained similar scenes of children from five different El Paso schools where Alferez taught, including two elementary schools, a middle school and two high schools. Furthermore, the factual basis states that two of the self-produced, hidden-camera videos depict Alferez engaging in sexual relations with a minor female. Altogether, Alferez' recordings contained about 400 child victims.
Alferez pleaded guilty on Aug. 2 to one count each of sexual exploiting children and distributing child pornography, for which he received consecutive 30-year and 20-year prison terms, respectively.
"Protecting children from sexual predators is paramount to HSI and the dedicated men and women charged with guarding the public safety of our community. We will continue to aggressively pursue child predators, working closely with the U.S. Attorney's Office to ensure these violators are punished to the fullest extent of the law," said Dennis A. Ulrich, acting special agent in charge of ICE HSI in El Paso.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, an 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 ICE launched Operation Predator in 2003, more than 12,800 child sex predators, sex tourists and child pornographers have been arrested.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators by calling at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form.