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August 25, 2022San Antonio, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI San Antonio investigation results in 20-year sentencing of former schoolteacher

SAN ANTONIO – A former schoolteacher with the Southside Independent School District was sentenced Aug. 23 to 20 years in prison on child pornography charges following an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Mark Anthony Rodriguez, 56, was sentenced to 240 months in prison and ordered to pay $70,000 in restitution to 14 separate victims.

“HSI San Antonio, remains committed in identifying individuals distributing child pornography on the internet,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge. “Identifying and investigating those who prey on our most vulnerable population, especially those individuals that hold positions of public trust, remains a top priority for HSI. Today’s sentence sends a clear message that there will be severe consequences for those who exploit children in anyway and HSI will continue to dedicate our resources to identify these individuals and bring them to justice.”

“During his sentencing, Rodriguez acknowledged that his job was to be a protector, not a predator, of children,” said Kristy Callahan, executive assistant U.S. Attorney. “He failed. The justice system has now held him accountable. We are proud of the work our office and law enforcement partners do to combat this blight on our communities.”

According to court documents, a search warrant was executed at the residence of Rodriguez. This is where HSI seized three devices which contained approximately 4,700 images and 384 videos of child pornography. On Dec. 12, 2019, a bench trial was held, and U.S. District Judge Fred Biery found Rodriguez guilty of one count of distribution of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography, and three counts of possession of child pornography.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Thompson, 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 1-866-347-2423, 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), Internet Crimes Against Children (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, 1-800-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 over 10,400 employees consists of more than 6,800 special agents assigned to 225 cities throughout the United States, and 86 overseas locations in 55 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.

Updated: 08/25/2022