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Child Exploitation

West Texas man sentenced to more than 7 years in federal prison for transporting child pornography

LUBBOCK, Texas — A west Texas man was sentenced Friday to seven years and three months in federal prison following his guilty plea in late December 2011 to transporting child pornography.

The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Tomas Lira Jr., 46, a resident of San Angelo, Texas, has been in custody since his October 2011 arrest.

According to documents filed in the case, Lira admitted that in August 2011 he posted an Internet ad on Craigslist.com in the personal category, "Men seeking men," under the title, "looking for a son." A HSI special agent, acting in an undercover capacity and posing as a 15-year-old, responded to the ad and asked Lira what kind of "stuff he was into." The two communicated by e-mail and text messaging, discussing sexual matters on several occasions. Lira advised he was into gay porn and preferred young males whom he referred to as "twinks." On Aug. 20, 2011, Lira texted an image of child pornography to the undercover special agent.

U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings also sentenced Lira to a 10-year period of supervised release after he completes his prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven M. Sucsy of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Lubbock, Texas, prosecuted this case.

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 and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.