FRESNO, Calif. - A 39-year-old man from Ceres, Calif., was sentenced in U.S. District Court Friday to 15 years in prison for attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U. S. Postal Inspection Service.
According to court documents, the Postal Inspection Service began investigating Martin after he initiated online communications with an undercover inspector who posed as a widowed 32-year-old mother of two children, ages 8 and 12. Martin sent the inspector pornographic images along with details of how he intended to molest the children, and in numerous e-mails and telephone calls, requested that the inspector take sexually explicit pictures of the two daughters and provide assistance in facilitating the molestation.
Martin's plan was to molest the children after he traveled to Washington State from California. He sent the inspector a digital camera and clothing for one of the girls and described how images of the girls should be produced. He stated that if the younger daughter resisted the abuse, he would have to rape her. Martin also informed the inspector of a previous sexual encounter he had with a 14-year-old female in Tacoma, Wash.
ICE's investigation began when agents in Los Angeles observed images of child pornography that had been posted to a Web site. The person who posted the images, later determined to be Martin, claimed that they were of his own daughter. ICE agents in Fresno executed a search warrant at Martin's residence, recovering a computer that contained hundreds of images of child pornography, some depicting minors being inflicted with sadistic or masochistic abuse.
Martin has been in custody since Sept. 24, 2009, as both a flight risk and danger to the community. Martin's sentence also includes $2,500 in restitution to a victim in a child pornography image he possessed, as well as a lifetime term of supervised release.
This investigation is part of ICE's Operation Predator, a nationwide initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who sexually exploit children, and the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood (PSC), which marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet.
As part of Operation Predator, ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.
Through PSC, the Department of Justice is seeking to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov or call the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California and ask to speak with the PSC coordinator.