News and Press Releases

Las Cruces Man Sentenced to Seventeen and a Half Years
in Federal Prison for Child Porn and Firearms Convictions

June 4, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE – Juan Lorenzo Barela, Jr., 40, of Las Cruces, N.M., was sentenced today in Las Cruces federal court in two separate criminal cases.  Barela was sentenced to 210 months in federal prison followed by five years of supervised release for his conviction on child pornography charges.  Barela also was sentenced to 120 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release in a separate case for being a felon in possession of a firearm.  The sentences are to be served concurrently.  Barela will be required to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.

Barela was arrested in Oct. 2010 based on two separate criminal complaints.  The first complaint charged Barela with distributing, receiving and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and the second charged him with being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.  Barela has been in federal custody since his arrest.

In Jan. 2011, Barela was indicted in the child pornography case and charged with distributing child pornography in July 2010 and with possessing child pornography in Sept. 2010.  Also in Jan. 2011, Barela was indicted and charged with unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition in Sept. 2010.  At the time, Barela was prohibited from possessing firearms and ammunition because he previously had been convicted of residential burglary and larceny in 1997 and of embezzlement in 2003 in the 3rd Judicial District Court for the State of New Mexico.

According to court filings, in July 2010, law enforcement authorities initiated an investigation that revealed that an IP Address subscribed to Barela at his Las Cruces residence was being used to distribute and receive child pornography.  On Sept. 14, 2010, Barela was interviewed by law enforcement officers while a search warrant was executed at his residence.  During the interview, Barela admitted downloading and possessing child pornography.  Forensic examinations of computers and computer-related media seized from Barela’s residence confirmed that they contained child pornography images and videos.  During the execution of the search warrant, the officers also seized seven firearms and approximately 1227 rounds of ammunition.

In Aug. 2011, Barela pled guilty to being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition.  Immediately before he was sentenced today, Barela entered a guilty plea to the indictment in the child pornography case.  

These two cases were investigated by the Las Cruces office of Homeland Security Investigations, the Las Cruces office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New Mexico State Police, the Las Cruces Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service.  The cases were prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron O. Jordan 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

The Operation also was brought as a part of the New Mexico Interstate 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 New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.  Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.

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