SAN ANTONIO - An administrator employed by the University of Texas at San Antonio pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing child pornography. The plea was announced by acting U.S. Attorney John E. Murphy, Western District of Texas. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) investigated the case.
Juan Cardona, 54, of San Antonio, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Pam Mathy to one count of possessing child pornography.
ICE agents executed a federal search warrant at Cardona's home in October 2007. Agents seized Cardona's personal computer, a hard drive and paper documents containing names and passwords for child pornography Web sites. A forensic analysis of the items revealed close to 3,000 images and more than 200 videos of child pornography.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas returned an indictment charging Cardona with possessing and receiving child pornography on Feb. 6, 2008. The following day, ICE agents arrested Cardona without incident.
"All children have an absolute right to grow up free from the fear of being sexually exploited," said Jerry Robinette, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Antonio. "And children should never have to fear those who are supposed to protect them. ICE will relentlessly pursue anyone who physically abuses or sexually exploits our most vulnerable asset, our children."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Braun, Western District of Texas, prosecuted this case. This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The 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 11,600 individuals.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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 www.cybertipline.com.