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May 25, 2016Corpus Christi, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

Southeast Texas man sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for distributing child pornography

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A southeast Texas man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison following his conviction for distributing child pornography.

This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. This investigation was conducted by the Corpus Christi Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with the assistance of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jorge Betancourt, 37, of Robstown, Texas, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Hayden Head to 180 months in prison. In addition, Betancourt must register as a sex offender, and serve 15 years of supervised release after he completes his prison term. He must also comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the Internet. Betancourt pleaded guilty to the charges March 1.

At the time of his guilty plea, the court heard that the case began when a detective with the Corpus Christi Police Department was able to successfully download various files containing child pornography from an Internet Protocol address that was associated with Betancourt. As a result, HSI was contacted to assist in this investigation.

In June 2015, authorities executed a search warrant at Betancourt's residence, at which time they seized several digital devices. A forensic analysis conducted on the digital devices revealed more than 530 videos and more than 540 images of child pornography. Betancourt admitted to using peer-to-peer software to download child pornography for about 11 years.

“Sadly, today’s technology in the hands of a predator with access to children has put our children at greater risk than ever before,” said Sean McElroy, acting special agent in charge of HSI Houston. “HSI will continue to work tirelessly to protect our kids and brings their abusers to justice.”

Betancourt has been in custody since he was arrested on the federal charges in October 2015; 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 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 14,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2015, nearly 2,400 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 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.