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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts Santa Clara Man on Child Pornography Charges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Francisco B. Burrola, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) El Paso, announced today that a federal jury returned a guilty verdict against Michael Rivera after less than 2 hours of deliberation.  The jury convicted Rivera, 31, of Santa Clara, New Mexico, on one count of coercion and enticement of a minor and two counts of production of a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. United States District Judge Margaret I. Strickland presided.

A federal grand jury indicted Rivera on Sept. 21, 2022. According to the evidence at trial and other publicly available court records, in 2020, Rivera befriended a minor identified as Jane Doe. Doe and Rivera became close. One day in March of 2021, when Doe was 12 years old, Rivera stopped at a convenience store and bought alcohol for both of them. He then drove to a secluded area of town and parked the car. Rivera then initiated sexual intercourse with Doe in the car. Afterward, Rivera told Doe that she could not tell anyone because he could get in trouble.

Following the incident, Rivera maintained contact with Doe by phone. Later that same year, Rivera began requesting that Doe send him naked photos and videos of herself via text message. Rivera received a number of items of child sexual abuse material from Doe.

“HSI is committed to combatting the global fight against child exploitation.  HSI El Paso’s efforts are focused on protecting our children and holding the offenders of such heinous acts accountable,” said Francisco B. Burrola, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso. “Innocent children are irreparably harmed in the production of child pornography, and individuals who distribute such revolting material continue to victimize them.  HSI works to identify, rescue, and provide services to children who have been subjected to sexual abuse and online exploitation and ultimately ensure those responsible are placed behind bars where they should remain.”

“Rivera exploited the vulnerability of a child less than half his age,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez. “Alongside our local partners, the United States will vigorously protect our community from such predators.”

Rivera faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison for one count of coercion and enticement and a mandatory minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison for each count of production of child pornography. Upon his release from prison, Rivera would be subject to registration as a sex offender.

Homeland Security Investigations investigated this case with the assistance of the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and the Las Cruces Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Marisa A. Ong and Eliot Neal are prosecuting the case.

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Updated July 12, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 23-146