News and Press Releases

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner
Eastern District of California

Lemoore Man Indicted For Sex Trafficking Of Minor And Production Of Child Pornography

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, May 16, 2013
 

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment today charging Navy Petty Officer Charles Ray Benavidez, 32, of Lemoore, with sex trafficking of a minor and production of child pornography, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

This case is the product of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Porterville Police Department, the Lemoore Police Department and the Tulare Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Brian W. Enos is prosecuting the case.

According to the indictment, in April 2013, Benavidez knowingly recruited a minor to engage in one or more commercial sex acts, as well as knowingly used a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing child pornography.

“The coercion of minors into prostitution is unconscionable under any circumstances, but the allegations are even more disturbing when the accused, like this defendant, hold positions of public trust,” said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge HSI Fresno. “HSI will continue to work closely its local and federal law enforcement partners to bring those engaged in the sexual exploitation of children to justice. We owe it to these underage victims, who are being robbed of their youth and their innocence.”

If convicted, Benavidez faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison for the sex trafficking count, and 15 to 30 years in prison for the production count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory sentencing factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc.

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