Former U.S. Marine Reservist Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Pornography Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – Lee Baca, 22, a former U.S. Marine Reservist who resides in Albuquerque, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to a receipt of child pornography charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Baca was charged on June 26, 2013, in a sealed five-count indictment charging him with three counts of receipt of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct and two counts of possession of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. According to the indictment, Baca received child pornography between Dec. 2012 and Feb. 2013, and possessed child pornography in March 2013, in Bernalillo County, N.M. The indictment was unsealed after Baca was arrested on June 29, 2013 by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents.
During today’s plea hearing, Baca entered a guilty plea to Count 1 of the indictment, a receipt of child pornography charge. In his plea agreement, Baca acknowledged that the investigation leading to his arrest began in Oct. 2012, when an agent with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office (NMAGO) working in an undercover capacity identified an IP Address that was being used to participate in the distribution of child pornography. On March 5, 2013, after investigation revealed that the IP Address was subscribed to Baca’s residence, HSI agents and officers of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) executed a search warrant at Baca’s residence and seized Baca’s computers and computer-related media.
In his plea agreement, Baca admitted participating in a voluntary interview while the search was ongoing and telling the agents and officers that he used file-sharing programs to download child pornography. Baca also acknowledged that an ongoing forensic examination of his computers and computer-related media uncovered more than 2000 videos and images consistent with child pornography. Baca also acknowledged that an examination of the images and videos on his computers and computer-related media by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children revealed 564 images and 7 videos of 47 children who have been identified as child pornography victims and have been rescued.
Baca has been in custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled. At sentencing, Baca faces a maximum prison sentence of not less than five years and not more than 20 years. Baca will be required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.
This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI, the NMAGO and APD. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
The case also was brought as part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 64 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the NMAGO. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.