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March 22, 2023McAllen, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI McAllen investigation results in Texas man’s guilty plea for receipt of child sexual abuse material

MCALLEN, Texas — Hugo Benjamin Tijerina, 36, of Pharr, pleaded guilty in federal court March 21 after admitting he received videos and images containing child sexual abuse material on his laptop. The plea followed a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigation.

According to court documents, on July 15, 2019, authorities identified an IP address associated with a home in Pharr that was using peer-to-peer software to download files depicting child sexual abuse material. The investigation led to Tijerina.

A search of the home revealed a laptop containing software used to download child sexual abuse material, search terms used to find and download videos containing that material, and files containing images of children under the age of 12.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo accepted Tijerina’s guilty plea and set sentencing for June 21. Tijerina faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.

Tijerina remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Eliza Carmen Rodriguez for the Southern District of Texas is prosecuting 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 by investigators. 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 (NCMEC), ICAC partners, and other federal, state, and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC’s toll-free 24-hour hotline, 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, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government 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.