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Child Exploitation

Southeast Texas cook sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for soliciting children for sex

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A local man was sentenced Wednesday to more than 10 years in federal prison after being convicted of soliciting children for sex through the Internet, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas.

This investigation was jointly conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (CCPD-ICAC).

Daniel Ricardo Barrientos, 30, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Hayden Head to 121 months in prison. At the hearing, Judge Head stated that this sentence was necessary to protect the public. Barrientos will also be required to serve a term of 15 years of supervised release after he completes his prison term, which includes numerous conditions that restrict his access to children and the Internet. He must also register as a sex offender. A Corpus Christi federal jury convicted Barrientos March 7 after a two-day trial.

During his jury trial, the government called several witnesses detailing the offense. The jury learned that Barrientos, a cook at a local chain restaurant, had communicated via email, text and telephone conversations with an undercover officer of the CCPD-ICAC. The officer portrayed herself as a single mother of two daughters, ages 12 and 14, who was interested in having her children engage in sexual acts with an adult. Barrientos responded with his desire to perform various sexual acts with the girls.

"It’s sobering to realize that our kids are often only a mouse click away from danger and deception," said Brian M. Moskowitz, special agent in charge of HSI Houston. "Sadly, today’s technology in the hands of a predator can put our kids at greater risk than ever before. However, HSI special agents and our law enforcement partners use this same technology to protect our kids and bring their abusers to justice."

Barrientos has been in custody since his Dec. 7 arrest. He will remain in custody 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 this case.

The 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 1-866-347-2423 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, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.