BROWNSVILLE, Texas - A Mexican national sentenced Sept. 1 to more than five years in prison for possessing hundreds of images and videos of child pornography.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Task Force conducted the investigation with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Luis Felipe Salazar-Sanchez, 29, was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release. Salazar-Sanchez, a non-U.S. citizen, set to face removal proceedings following completion of his sentence. The court considered statements from seven victims describing the trauma they have endured. In handing down the prison term, the judge additionally ordered Salazar-Sanchez to pay $9,000 in restitution to be divided equally amongst victims who requested restitution. Salazar-Sanchez pleaded guilty May 5.
According to court documents, HSI’s investigation revealed Salazar-Sanchez had been purchasing child pornography. On Oct. 20, 2019, HSI suspected he was going to attempt to enter the United States from Mexico. As he approached the Gateway Port of Entry in Brownsville, Texas, CBP officers identified him and referred him to secondary inspection. There, they conducted a search of his cellphone. Forensic analysis revealed nearly 600 images and videos of child pornography, including numerous images depicting prepubescent minors and sadistic and masochistic conduct.
Salazar-Sanchez has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nikki Piquette, of the Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.
HSI also 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. From outside the United States and Canada, callers should dial (802) 872-6199. Hearing impaired users may call TTY (802) 872-6196.
HSI takes a victim-centered approach to child exploitation investigations by working to identify, rescue and stabilize victims. HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), ICAC partners, and other federal, state, and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC’s toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member 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.
HSI is the principal investigative arm of DHS and a vital U.S. asset in combatting transnational crime and threats. One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s child exploitation investigations program is a central component of this mission set. HSI is recognized as a global leader in this investigative discipline, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government partnerships to identify and rescue child victims, identify and apprehend offenders, prevent transnational child sexual abuse, and help make the internet a safer place for children.
Source: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE.gov)