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February 15, 2022Corpus Christi, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

Southeast Texas man sentenced to 151 months in prison for coercing a minor on Instagram

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A Southeast Texas man was sentenced Feb. 14 in the Southern District of Texas to 151 months in federal prison for coercing a minor on Instagram in order to have sex with her.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Corpus Christi and the Corpus Christi Police Department conducted the investigation.

Steven Lopez, 31, a resident of Corpus Christi, was also ordered to pay restitution to his identified victim, to register as a sex offender and to serve the rest of his life on supervised release following completion of his prison term. Lopez pleaded guilty to charges Nov. 8, 2021.

In imposing the sentence, the court heard evidence that Lopez continued to communicate with minors while awaiting further criminal proceedings.

In July 2019, law enforcement learned Lopez had sexually abused a minor and eventually apprehended him. At that time, they seized his cell phone which revealed that Lopez used social media to target a minor for the purpose of having sex. Lopez had also attempted to hide his criminal conduct by deleting certain messages. However, forensic analysis yielded multiple instances of incriminating content.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Molly K. Smith and Dennis E. Robinson prosecuted the case.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.