ABILENE, Texas — A west Texas man was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis to 15 years in federal prison for producing child pornography.
This sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Abilene Police Department investigated this case.
Johnny Ray Martinez, 25, from Abilene, Texas, pleaded guilty in May to one count of attempting to produce child pornography. He has been in custody since his arrest in February on a related criminal complaint.
According to documents filed in the case, in January and February 2014, Martinez used cell phones to communicate with a girl he had previously met in person, and whose profile he had located online. He initially communicated with the girl anonymously, using alias online identities. He used Pinger, an online texting application, and Facebook, to chat online and text with the girl. Martinez became sexually explicit with the girl, whom he knew to be 15 years old. On more than one occasion, he sent the girl a sexually explicit photo of himself.
After his conduct was reported to law enforcement, an investigation was initiated and an HSI special agent consensually assumed the identity of the girl. Communication continued between Martinez and the person Martinez believed to be the 15-year-old girl, and Martinez again sent sexually explicit images of himself.
On Feb. 5, Martinez used his cell phone to communicate with the person he believed to be the 15-year-old girl and asked her to send him a photograph of her genitals. Although no image was created, Martinez's request amounted to an attempt by him to cause a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of the conduct.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy, Northern District of Texas, prosecuted this case.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE 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-THE-LOST.
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.