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Child Exploitation

Virginia man sentenced to prison for producing child pornography

NORFOLK, Va. — A Virginia Beach, Va., man was sentenced to 60 years in prison for producing child pornography, following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Virginia Beach Police Department.

Abimael Cardenales, 45, was sentenced today to 60 years in prison in Norfolk federal district court by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. Cardenales previously pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 29.

According to court documents, in October 2011, the Virginia Beach police began an investigation of Cardenales after being contacted by Child Protective Services. The investigation revealed that, in 2010, Cardenales produced child pornography involving two different special needs minors, ages 13 and 15. Cardenales had also been sexually abusing the minors over a period of years.

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-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth M. Yusi.