ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A U.S. Marine was arraigned Tuesday on child pornography charges, which resulted from an investigation by special agents with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Lee Baca, 22, from Albuquerque, was arraigned July 2 on a five-count indictment charging him with child pornography offenses. Baca entered a not guilty plea to the indictment and was ordered detained pending trial, which has not yet been scheduled. Baca has since been discharged from the Marines.
On June 26, a federal grand jury returned a sealed indictment charging Baca with three counts of receiving visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and two counts of possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
The indictment reads that Baca received child pornography between December 2012 and February 2013, and possessed child pornography in March 2013. The offenses allegedly occurred in Bernalillo County, N.M. The indictment was unsealed June 29 after HSI special agents arrested Baca. If convicted, Baca faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years on each of the three charges for receiving child pornography, and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each of the two charges for possessing child pornography.
This case was investigated by the Sexual Predator and Exploitation Enforcement (SPEED) Task Force, which is composed of HSI, Albuquerque Police Department, Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, and the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.
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.