DEL RIO, Texas — A southwestern Texas man was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 20 years in prison for receiving child pornography.
This sentence resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Abel De Leon, 60, of Asherton, Texas, was sentenced on one count of receiving child pornography. De Leon had previously pleaded guilty to the charge June 5, 2013.
"This 20-year sentence sends a clear message that those who exploit children in any way will face serious consequences," said HSI San Antonio Special Agent-in-Charge Janice Ayala. "Preventing and investigating crimes against children is a high priority for HSI. We will continue to dedicate law enforcement resources to identify and bring to justice child predators that traumatize and victimize children."
Court records show that HSI agents, who were conducting an investigation into online exploitation of minors, executed a search warrant at De Leon's residence in November 2012. Federal agents seized several DVDs, a computer and related equipment. A subsequent forensics examination of the seized items revealed more than 100 videos and images depicting sexual exploitation of pre-pubescent children.
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 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
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. 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.
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.