In October, 2016, a man from Del Rio in Texas was sentenced to spend nine years in a federal prison for receiving and distributing child pornography.
Around the same time, Ronald Douglass Sweatt of Fort Worth was sentenced to 30 years in a federal prison after he admitted producing child pornography.
The two cases reinforce the fact that child pornography is treated very seriously and is usually dealt with by the federal authorities.
Daniel Vicuna, 21, from Del Rio, Texas, pleaded guilty to receiving and distributing child pornography on Dec. 11, 2015. He was sentenced on Oct. 26 by U.S. District Judge Alia Moses to 109 months imprisonment, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated in a press release.
This sentence followed an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Homeland security agents executed a search warrant at Vicuna’s home in Del Rio. The agents seized laptops. The press release stated a forensic analysis of the items revealed many images of child pornography.
This investigation was part of HIS’s Operation Predator, an initiative intended to protect children from sexual predators that crosses national borders.
The feds have made no secret of their determination to arrest those who deal in child pornography.
Shane Folden, the special agent in charge of the operation stated:
“These HSI investigations help protect children by taking child predators off the internet and off the streets by putting them behind bars. Targeting these crimes against children is a high priority for HSI. We will continue to dedicate our law enforcement resources to identify and bring to justice child predators who traumatize and victimize children.”
Recently, the Dallas Morning News noted on how Ronald Douglass Sweatt admitted one charge of producing child pornography in May.
Sweatt is said to have returned to Texas from Mexico in June 2015. Investigators found him in possession of a disk drive containing videos and obscene images recorded south of the border.
A detective with Fort Worth police downloaded images and tracked them to an IP address used by Sweatt, court documents stated.
His house in Haslet was raided at the end of last year and the external drive containing obscene images was recovered by police.
Police said some of the images recovered from a home in Haslet by Sweatt showed him having sex with a young girl.
The Dallas Morning News report said he admitted downloading child porn when he lived in Mexico.
The 30-year sentence means Sweatt will not be released from federal prison until he’s 77-years-old. There is no option of parole in the federal prison system.
These two cases and many others demonstrate the tough sentences inherent in child pornography crimes.
The US Sentencing Guidelines point out the penalty for a first time offender is as high as 12-20 years in prison. The sentencing guidelines for possession of child pornography obtained from shared files can be stricter than the penalties for people who physically abuse children.
Defendants frequently make the mistake of believing a file can be lost by deleting it. Child pornography investigators use very sophisticated file recovery systems.
The crime of possessing child pornography is a third degree felony in Texas. If the defendant possesses child pornography and the prosecution can prove intent to promote or distribute it, the charge is raised to a second degree felony carrying a sentence of two to 12 years.
The Medlin Law Firm handles all criminal cases including those involving child pornography. These cases often involve a meticulous investigation and the federal authorities. However, the fact there is such an onus on agents and police to get results can mean prosecutors are overzealous. Call us if you have been charged with a crime related to child pornography or any other matter.