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Child Exploitation

New York couple pleads guilty to sexual exploitation of a child

NEW YORK — A Bronx couple pleaded guilty for engaging in conduct that led to the sexual exploitation of a child. These events come as a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Inocencia Ortega, 35, pleaded guilty June 21, to conspiring to commit the sexual exploitation of a child and making false statement relating to a sex offense. On June 11, Ortega's husband, Luciano Mendez-Rojas, 38, pleaded guilty to committing the sexual exploitation of a child and distributing child pornography.

"Inocencia Ortega and Luciano Mendez-Rojas created a most unhealthy domestic atmosphere for their children by repeatedly exposing them to explicit activity. Mendez-Rojas also downloaded and distributed images and videos of other children engaged in explicit activity," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "These pleas bring an end to their abusive behavior and are a significant victory for all of us who want to keep these sexual predators from hurting children."

"Child pornography is pernicious in all of its forms and it is something that will not be tolerated by this office," said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Southern District of New York

According to court documents, in July 2011, Ortega and Mendez-Rojas engaged in sexually explicit conduct in their home in the Bronx, New York, while their minor child (the victim) filmed videos of the conduct at the direction of Mendez-Rojas.

On Feb. 9, 2011, Mendez-Rojas distributed child pornography over the Internet using file-sharing software.

Furthermore, in connection with the investigation, Ortega falsely stated to HSI special agents that her children, including the victim, never told her that they had seen child pornography. In fact, the victim had already told Ortega that he/she had seen a video containing child pornography on a computer in the family's home.

Ortega and Mendez-Rojas are both citizens of Mexico. Ortega faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison. Mendez-Rojas faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison with a 15 year mandatory minimum.

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-DHS-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.