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September 25, 2013Albuquerque, NMUnited StatesChild Exploitation

US Marine reservist in Albuquerque pleads guilty to federal child pornography charges

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 22-year-old U.S. Marine reservist pleaded guilty Wednesday to receiving child pornography.

This case resulted from an investigation by special agents with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Lee Baca, of Albuquerque, was charged June 26 in a sealed five-count indictment charging him with three counts of receiving, and two counts of possessing child porography.

According to the indictment, Baca received child pornography between December 2012 and February 2013, and possessed child pornography in March 2013, in Bernalillo County, N.M. The indictment charging Baca was unsealed after HSI special agents arrested him June 29.

The investigation leading to Baca's arrest began in October 2012 when an undercover agent with the New Mexico Attorney General's Office identified an Internet Protocol address used to participate in distributing child pornography.

This investigation revealed that the IP address was subscribed to Baca's residence. On March 5, 2013, HSI special agents and Albuquerque Police Department officers executed a search warrant at Baca's residence and seized his computers and computer-related media.

In his plea agreement, Baca admitted participating in a voluntary interview while the search of his residence was ongoing; he told special agents and police officers that he used file-sharing programs to download child pornography. Baca also admitted that his computers and computer-related media contained more than 2,000 videos and images of child pornography. An examination of these images and videos by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed 564 images and seven videos of 47 children who have been identified as child pornography victims and who have been rescued.

Baca has been in custody since his June 29 arrest; he remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, he faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Baca will also be required to register as a sex offender after he completes whatever prison sentence is imposed.

This 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.

Updated: 04/08/2015