U.S. Border Patrol Agent Arrested on Federal Child Pornography Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Abel Michael Quiroz, 26, a U.S. Border Patrol Agent who resides in Las Cruces, N.M., was arrested yesterday on federal child pornography offenses. Quiroz made his initial appearance in federal court in Las Cruces this morning. He remains in custody pending a detention hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
Quiroz was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with receiving and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. According to the criminal complaint, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiated an investigation into Quiroz after receiving information that an adult male, later confirmed to be Quiroz, was having inappropriate communications with a 15-year-old child (victim).
The complaint alleges that execution of a search warrant for the contents of an email address belonging to Quiroz revealed found numerous sexually explicit communications between Quiroz and the victim as well as nude and sexually explicit photographs of the victim. On April 29, 2014, HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at Quiroz’s residence where they seized digital media and arrested Quiroz. There is no evidence suggesting that Quiroz’s alleged criminal activities were conducted with government-owned equipment or technology.
If convicted of the charges in the criminal complaint, Quiroz faces a federal prison term of not less than five years and not more than 20 years. If convicted, Quiroz also would be required to register as a sex offender. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Child Exploitation Unit of HSI’s office in Las Cruces pursuant to Project iGuardian, an HSI initiative designed to reach children, parents and teachers and share information about the dangers of online environments, how to stay safe online and how to report abuse and suspicious activity. The Olathe (Kansas) Police Department assisted in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Shapiro of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office 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 Operation also was brought as a 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 74 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico 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.