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Child Exploitation

South Texas man pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

LAREDO, Texas — A local man pleaded guilty Wednesday to possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with the assistance of the Laredo Police Department (LPD).

Luis Alberto Alcala, 24, of Laredo, Texas, appeared before Senior U.S. Magistrate Judge J. Scott Hacker and admitted downloading images and videos from child pornography sites. The investigation revealed that several of the downloaded images were identified as known victims by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

According to court documents, HSI and LPD initiated this investigation in June 2008 after a complaint was filed regarding a debit/credit card theft. The card was used to purchase a computer at Wal-Mart along with other items that were not authorized by the owner of the debit/credit card. Further investigation by LPD led to Alcala who admitted to detectives that he had used the card to purchase the laptop computer that was found at his apartment. LPD's search of the computer revealed that the hard drive contained numerous visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit acts. LPD referred this part of the investigation to HSI.

HSI special agents conducted a forensic exam of the computer's hard drive, which revealed 194 photographic images and 20 movies of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Alcala admitted to LPD investigators that he had downloaded the images because he was curious.

Alcala is expected to be sentenced in October; he faces up to 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Alcala has been in custody where he will remain pending that hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Roberto F. Ramirez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.

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.