CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Southeast Texas man, who was convicted for sexually assaulting a child in 1984, was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography.
This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Corpus Christi Police Department’s (CCPD) Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
Manuel Diaz, 65, Corpus Christi, was sentenced to 180 months in federal prison April 30. Diaz was also ordered to serve 10 years of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Diaz must also register as a sex offender.
Diaz pleaded guilty to the charges on Jan. 31, 2019.
On July 3, 2017, several employees at a local drug store noticed Diaz as he scrolled through photos on a kiosk in the photo lab area – in plain view of employees and customers. The employees noticed what they believed to be images of child pornography stored on Diaz’ phone and hooked into the kiosk by a data cable. Employees contacted local law enforcement who placed Diaz under arrest. Diaz subsequently confessed to possessing the images.
In total, Diaz possessed more than 100 images of child pornography and 65 videos containing child pornography. A forensic evaluation of his phone led investigators to several messages on a popular social media app in which Diaz had sent the images to other users, including people Diaz believed were underage females.
Diaz has been a sex offender since 1984 when he was convicted for sexually assaulting a child in Harris County (Texas).
Diaz remains in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brittany L. Jensen and Hugo R. Martinez, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 19,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 (3,191) child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 850 (859) victims identified or rescued.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196.
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-THE-LOST.
For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page. HSI is a founding member 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.