Federal Jury Convicts Illegal Alien of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor and Possession of Child Pornography
United States Attorney Brandon J. Fremin announced today the conviction of an illegal alien who coerced and enticed a child victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct and send him images of such conduct over the internet. The defendant, VICTOR ZELAYA-FUNEZ, a Honduran national residing in Zachary, Louisiana, was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 12, 2017 and charged with sexual exploitation of a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2251(a) and (3), and possession of child pornography, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2252A(a)(5)(B).
ZELAYA-FUNEZ, now 38 years old, proceeded to trial on June 18, 2018, before Chief U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson. After a three-day trial, the jury unanimously convicted ZELAYA-FUNEZ of both counts. As the evidence at trial demonstrated, ZELAYA-FUNEZ possessed sexually explicit photos and attempted to coerce the victim into taking additional sexually explicit photographs of herself and creating sexually explicit videos of herself and sending them directly to ZELAYA-FUNEZ. In private messages, he sent to the victim, ZELAYA-FUNEZ threatened to tell the victim’s parents about images of her if she did not comply with his demands; in other private messages, the defendant told the victim he cared for her and promised to take her to the movies.
As a result of his conviction for sexual exploitation of a minor, ZELAYA-FUNEZ now faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. The defendant also faces a significant term of imprisonment for the possession of child pornography count, significant fines, restitution, and supervised release, and deportation following his release from federal prison.
ZELAYA-FUNEZ also faces a separate federal indictment charging him with illegal re-entry into the United States by a removed alien. Both indictments were returned in the Middle District of Louisiana.
United States Attorney Fremin stated, “The aggressive prosecution of illegal aliens engaged in the sexual exploitation of children is a top priority of the U.S. Department of Justice generally and this office in particular. I commend the victim for her incredible courage and strength throughout these proceedings, and I thank the jury for their considered and thoughtful decision. I also greatly appreciate the outstanding efforts of the prosecutors and agents who worked tirelessly to bring this defendant to justice.”
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations and Enforcement Removal Operations, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, with assistance from the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ryan Rezaei and Assistant United States Attorney Rene I. Salomon, who serves as the office’s Senior Litigation Counsel.