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October 22, 2019Houston, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

Visa overstay from Mexico sentenced in Houston to 10 years in federal prison for receiving, possessing child pornography

HOUSTON — A 54-year-old Mexican man who illegally remained in the United States after his temporary visa had expired was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Tuesday for receiving and possessing child pornography. 

This investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.

Alberto Bernal Garcia, who illegally resided in Houston, Texas, pleaded guilty to the criminal charges April 16. He was sentenced to 10 years each for the receipt and possession convictions, respectively. These sentences will run concurrently. 

In addition to his prison sentence, Garcia was also ordered to pay $76,000 in restitution to known victims.  And he must serve five years on supervised release after he completes his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. He must also register as a sex offender. 

On or about May 20, 2018, law enforcement initiated an investigation into child pornography sharing which eventually led them to Garcia’s work address. Authorities executed a search warrant and seized a laptop and external hard drive which Garcia used. A forensic analysis resulted in discovering 794 videos and 4,837 images of child pornography, which included pre-pubescent children, some as young as 3 years old, and bestiality. Garcia collected child pornography on his personal computer and an external hard drive.  

Garcia legally entered the United States from Mexico on a temporary visa in 1997. However, he overstayed that visa.  Following his release from federal prison, he is expected to face removal proceedings.  

Garcia remains in federal custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Zahra Jivani Fenelon, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.