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Child Exploitation

South Texas man sentenced to 7 years in prison for possessing child pornography

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A local man was sentenced Thursday to 84 months in federal prison following his guilty plea to possessing child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Corpus Christi Police Department's (CCPD) Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICAC).

Joe Frank Rios, 45, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Judge Hayden Head, further ordering Rios to serve a life term on supervised release and register as a sex offender. Rios pleaded guilty Jan. 12, admitting he possessed multiple videos and images of child pornography which consisted of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

On Oct. 18, 2010, HSI conducted an undercover investigation into the online activities of people trading child pornography. Rios was identified as a person offering child pornography for download on a peer-to-peer file-sharing network and special agents were able to download a file suspected to contain child pornography. A search warrant was obtained and executed on his Corpus Christi home Nov. 23, 2010; his computer was seized and turned over to the CCPD-ICAC. A forensic examination of the seized computer revealed the presence of child pornography.

According to court documents, during the execution of the search warrant, Rios admitted downloading child pornography from the Internet and that he was addicted to doing so. Several of the images and videos were found to include victims previously identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. On March 15, the court also assessed restitution in the amount of $3,000 for one of the known victims.

Rios has been in custody since his arrest where he will remain pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lance Duke, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

This investigation is part of HSI'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, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children using the Internet.

As part of Operation Predator, HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or via its online tip form. 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.