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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

Oct. 19, 2010

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

FORMER HIDALGO COUNTY DETENTION OFFICER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR RECEIVING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY

(MCALLEN, Texas) – Francisco Cantu, a former Hidalgo County Detention Officer, has been sentenced to 63 months in federal prison and must register as a sex offender for receiving child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa handed down the sentence at a sentencing hearing held late Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. 

Cantu, 36, of Edinburg, Texas, pleaded guilty in May 2007 to receiving child pornography - admitting he had purchased a membership to a child pornography website in early 2005 and, after accessing the website, downloaded images and videos of child pornography onto his home computer. The charges against Cantu were brought following an investigation by special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations who identified Cantu as a subscriber to the child pornography website and ultimately resulted in the execution of a search warrant at his residence and seizure of his home computer and external media in October 2006. A forensic examination of Cantu’s computer and external storage media resulted in the discovery of more than 3,500 still images and 50 video clips of child pornography. The still images and video clips depicted adults engaged in various sexual acts with children. The children depicted in the images and video clips largely ranged in age from four to 10 years old; however, several images depicted children less than two years of age being sexually assaulted. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has identified numerous known child victims within Cantu’s child pornography collection.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Hinojosa ordered Cantu to serve a five-year-term of supervised release and to pay $1,750 to each of two known victims depicted in the images. Cantu has been held  in federal custody without bond since his arrest in October 2006 and will remain in custody to serve his sentence. 

This case, prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Juan F. Alanis, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse launched in February 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by the United States Attorney’s Offices, 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 identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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