FRESNO, Calif. – A Modesto man was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography, the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Iberto Morales, 31, pleaded guilty Jan. 6. According to court documents, in February 2013 Iberto possessed between 300 and 600 images showing minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Many of the images portrayed very young children engaged in sadism, masochism and violence.
"Today’s prison sentence is a reminder of the serious crime that is committed when images of innocent children are illegally traded in cyberspace," said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. "Targeting these predators is a top priority for HSI. We will work tirelessly to end this type of despicable child exploitation."
Morales was originally indicted on for possession of child pornography in February 2013. Since he had a prior conviction, Morales faced a minimum statutory period of confinement of 10 years.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.
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.