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March 20, 2023Eagle Pass, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI Eagle Pass investigation results in 84-month sentence for Ecuadorian citizen for possession of child sexual abuse material

EAGLE PASS, Texas — A Ecuadorian citizen was sentenced March 16 to seven years in federal prison for possession of child sexual abuse material following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) along with U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector.

A federal judge sentenced Ramiro Helibuerto Cuenca-Campos, 27, of Cuenca Provincia, Azuay, Ecuador to 84 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.

“This defendant traveled from Ecuador and crossed the border into our country with a sickening amount of child sexual abuse material on his cell phone,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza of the Western District of Texas. “Thankfully, our federal law enforcement partners at the border disrupted a human smuggling operation and conducted their routine procedures, searching this individual and his phone when they detained him. This case reinforces the fact that, much like our policies against the drugs and firearms that noncitizens occasionally try to bring into the U.S., we will not tolerate anyone bringing in material that sexually exploits and harms children.”

“Individuals who receive and possess child pornography participate in the victimization of children whose innocence can never be restored,” said HSI San Antonio acting Special Agent in Charge Craig S. Larrabee. “These criminals also represent a public safety threat to our communities. For those reasons, child exploitation cases are a top priority for HSI, and we will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure they are arrested, prosecuted, and ultimately removed from the United States.”

According to court documents, Cuenca-Campos was apprehended by Border Patrol agents near Brackettville during a failed human smuggling attempt. A forensic analysis of his cell phone revealed more than 2,000 images containing child sexual abuse material.

Chief U.S. District Judge Alia Moses found Cuenca-Campos guilty after a bench trial on July 27, 2021. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest on March 10, 2020. In addition to the prison sentence, Cuenca-Campos was ordered to pay $18,000 in restitution to the victims and $200 in special assessments. Chief Judge Moses also ordered forfeiture of his phone.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rex Beasley, Western District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line at 866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock. From outside the United States and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users may call TTY 802-872-6196.

HSI takes a victim-centered approach to child exploitation investigations by working to identify, rescue and stabilize victims. HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, ICAC partners, and other federal, state and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children. You can report suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 800-THE-LOST.

HSI is a founding member 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.

One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s child exploitation investigations program is a central component of this mission set. Further, HSI is recognized as a global leader in this investigative discipline. The directorate is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and nongovernment partnerships to identify and rescue child victims; identify and apprehend offenders; prevent transnational child sexual abuse; and help make the internet a safer place for children.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.