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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELA DODGE

July 18, 2011

PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER
(713) 567-9388

Owner of Local Airline Charged with Distribution of Child Pornography

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Robert L. Hedrick, 60, has been arrested following the filing of a criminal complaint alleging he distributed images of child pornography, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Hedrick is president of the Brownsville-based Pan American Airways which provides cargo air service between the United States and Mexico.

According to the complaint filed on Friday, July 15, 2011, Hedrick is alleged to have shared multiple images of child pornography with undercover investigators from Louisiana and Wisconsin in online chat rooms between Sept.  14, 2010, and Nov. 22, 2010. Hedrick was arrested this morning by Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) agents at his home in Brownsville without incident. He is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Felix Recio in Brownsville on Tuesday, July 19, 2011. The United States expects to request that the court detain Hendricks in federal custody without bond pending further criminal proceedings.

Distribution of child pornography carries a mandatory minimum punishment of five years incarceration up to 20 years. Fines of up to $250,000 can also be imposed upon conviction for each offense. Additionally, each offense carries a maximum life term of supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and requires registration as a sex offender. 

The prosecution is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the 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.projectsafechildhood.gov./

 Assistant United States Attorneys V. LaTawn Warsaw and Carrie Wirsing are prosecuting the case.