Children's Minister Arrested on Federal Child Pornography Charges
ALBUQUERQUE – Derek M. Schwartzrock, 34, a children’s minister in an Albuquerque-area church, was arrested yesterday on federal child pornography charges by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the New Mexico State Police (NMSP). Schwartzrock is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court tomorrow morning on a criminal complaint alleging that Schwartzrock received and possessed visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. He remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing which has yet to be scheduled.
According to the criminal complaint, the Albuquerque office of HSI began investigating Schwartzrock in mid-March 2013 after the Philadelphia office of HSI determined that an individual in Albuquerque was accessing a website containing sexually explicit images of children. Investigation subsequently revealed that Schwartzrock was the subscriber for the IP Address that allegedly was used to download sexually explicit images of children. Yesterday, HSI and the NMSP arrested Schwartzrock and executed a search warrant at his residence seizing a computer, computer-related media and other electronic devices. A preliminary examination of the electronic devices seized during the execution of the search warrant revealed over 12000 images that appeared to be consistent with child pornography.
If convicted of the offenses alleged in the criminal complaint, Schwartzrock faces a sentence of not less than five years or more than 40 years in prison. He would also be required to register as a sex offender.
The case was investigated by HSI, the NMSP and the New Mexico Regional Forensic Lab, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charlyn E. Rees. It was brought 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
The Operation also was brought as a part of the New Mexico Internet 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.
Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.