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Oct. 26, 2011

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Houston Resident Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

HOUSTON – Armando Ruben Avila, 48, has pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today. U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal accepted the plea at a hearing held late yesterday in Houston.

The investigation began when Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents received information regarding a commercial child pornography website. Agents determined that the company is a pay-for-access commercial website that offers child pornography in a variety of media formats, including still images and VHS and DVD videos. Paid membership to this website was secured by sending a Western Union moneygram to individuals in Russia. Agents were able to trace one of the moneygrams to Avila.

On Oct. 14, 2009, agents executed a federal search warrant at Avila’s residence in Houston, at which time agents seized an HP Pavilion desktop and a Toshiba laptop. Avila admitted to searching for and downloading child pornography on the Internet. Subsequent forensic analysis resulted in the discovery of images of child pornography on both machines including at least 4,000 images and 50 videos of child pornography. Some of the images depicted prepubescent girls engaging in sexual intercourse and oral sex with adult males.
Avila was arrested in June 2011. He was released on bond and was allowed to remain on bond pending his sentencing hearing, which is set for January 2012.

Avila faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000 as possible punishment. Upon completion of any prison term imposed, Avila also faces a maximum of life on supervised release during which the court can impose a number of special conditions designed to protect children and prohibit the use of the Internet.

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stabe, was brought as 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