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Child Exploitation

West Texas man admits transporting child pornography over the Internet

Defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison

LUBBOCK, Texas — A west Texas man pleaded guilty Friday to transporting child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Ruben Cuellar, 42, of Shallowater, Texas, faces a statutory sentence of not less than five or more than 20 years in prison, up to a $250,000 fine, and up to a lifetime of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings ordered a presentence investigation report with a sentencing date to be set after the report is completed. Cuellar has been in custody since his March arrest on related charges outlined in a federal criminal complaint.

According to documents filed in the case, in March 2012, as part of its child pornography investigation, undercover Lubbock Police Department officers determined that Cuellar had child pornography on his computer. Officers were able to make a direct connection with Cuellar's computer, and using peer-to-peer file-sharing software, downloaded several child pornography images from Cuellar's computer.

Law enforcement executed a search warrant at Cuellar's residence March 8 and seized several computers and related electronic storage media. According to the affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, Cuellar admitted using Limewire P2P software to obtain child pornography from the Internet, and stated that he looked for images of children as young as 6 years old.

This investigation was conducted by the Lubbock Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas, is in charge of the prosecution.

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-2ICE 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, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.