LANSING, Mich. - A local man was sentenced on Monday to 120 years in prison for sexually exploiting a minor, and distributing and possessing child pornography. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Michael Hinojosa, 33, of Lansing, Mich. was sentenced to 1,440 months in federal prison before Judge Paul L. Maloney, U.S. District Court; Kalamazoo, Mich. Hinojosa was convicted on six counts, including: two counts of sexually exploiting a minor, two counts of distributing images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct, one count of possessing images of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, and one count possessing child pornography. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
The investigation by ICE began in March 2006 after information was received from ICE agents in Chicago regarding a potential child predator in the Grand Rapids area. Within a week, a search warrant was executed at Hinojosa's residence at 435 Seymour Ave. in Lansing, Mich. ICE agents seized Hinojosa's three computers, various related media devices and documents. A computer forensic analysis of the seized items resulted in discovering more than 600 images of children, primarily prepubescent girls, engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Also discovered were images of Hinojosa engaging in sex acts with an 8-year old girl, which he photographed and/ or videotaped. He later distributed some of these images via the Internet.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of being sexually exploited," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Detroit. "Children should never have to fear those who are supposed to protect them. ICE will relentlessly pursue anyone who sexually exploits our kids."
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide 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 Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 10,900 individuals, including more than 270 in Michigan.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE. Investigators staff this hotline around the clock. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Mekaru, Western District of Michigan.