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Child Exploitation

Indiana man sentenced to 17 years in prison for producing child pornography

HAMMOND, Ind. — An Indiana man was sentenced Thursday to more than 17 years in federal prison for taking nude photos of a young girl.

This sentence resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the Hammond Police Department.

Dante Christopher Vasquez, 44, of East Chicago, Ind., was sentenced March 7 by U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to 210 months in prison and 20 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of producing child pornography.

According to documents filed by the government in this case, the Hammond Police Department initiated an investigation after receiving a complaint of an adult family member taking nude pictures of a minor. The responding officer interviewed the mother and her child about the complaint. During the interview, authorities determined that Vasquez was related to the mother, had frequently cared for her children, and had used the mother's camera to take nude pictures of the child. Law enforcement executed a search warrant at the Vasquez residence, locating multiple computers revealing images of child pornography that included the child involved in the initial complaint.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster, Northern District of Indiana, prosecuted this case.

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 1-866-347-2423 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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair 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.