Former NMMI Cadet Arrested in California on Federal Child Pornography Charges Filed in New Mexico
Prosecution Brought under Project Safe Childhood
ALBUQUERQUE – Josh Williams, 20, of Lakeside, Calif., was arrested on Nov. 4, 2015, in Lakeside, Calif., on a criminal complaint alleging child pornography charges that was filed on Oct. 27, 2015, in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M. Williams is scheduled to make his initial appearance on the criminal complaint this morning in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California in San Diego, Calif. During today’s proceeding, the court will address the process by which Williams will be transported from California to Las Cruces to face the charges against him.
The criminal complaint charges Williams with distribution, possession and attempted production of child pornography. It alleges that Williams committed these offenses in May 2015 in Roswell, N.M. At the time, Williams was enrolled as a cadet at the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI).
According to the criminal complaint, the investigation into Williams began in Aug. 2014, when a father and minor child disclosed to the FBI that the child had been self-producing child pornography and sharing it with others by way of an internet chat room. The father surrendered the child’s cellular phone to the FBI and the FBI found it to contain alleged child pornography that had been shared with a specific account identified by a particular username.
Subsequent investigation revealed that Williams, then a NMMI cadet, was the alleged subscriber to aforementioned account and search warrants were obtained for Williams’ computers, cellphone and other digital media. Forensic examinations of Williams’ computer and cellphone allegedly revealed that they contained videos and images consistent with child pornography.
If convicted, Williams faces the following penalties for the crimes charged in the criminal complaint: distribution of child pornography – a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison; possession of child pornography – a maximum of ten years in prison; and attempted production of child pornography – a maximum of 30 years in prison. Charges in criminal complaints are merely accusations and criminal defendants are presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case was investigated by the Roswell office of the FBI, New Mexico State Police, New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory with assistance from the FBI in San Diego, Calif., and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California. Assistant U.S. Attorney Marisa A. Lizarraga of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
The case is 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 case also was brought as a part of the New Mexico 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 80 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.