Former U.S. Border Patrol Agent Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography
ALBUQUERQUE – Abel Michael Quiroz, 27, a former U.S. Border Patrol Agent who resides in Las Cruces, N.M., pleaded guilty today to possession of a matter containing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Quiroz will be sentenced to 30 months in prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court. Quiroz also will be required to register as a sex offender.
Quiroz was arrested on April 29, 2014, on a criminal complaint charging him with receiving and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. According to the criminal complaint, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) initiated an investigation into Quiroz after receiving information that an adult male, later confirmed to be Quiroz, was having inappropriate communications with a 15-year-old child (victim).
The complaint alleges that execution of a search warrant for the contents of an email address belonging to Quiroz revealed numerous sexually explicit communications between Quiroz and the victim as well as nude and sexually explicit photographs of the victim. On April 29, 2014, HSI special agents executed a federal search warrant at Quiroz’s residence where they seized digital media and arrested Quiroz. There is no evidence suggesting that Quiroz’s criminal activities were conducted with government-owned equipment or technology.
During today’s plea hearing, Quiroz entered a guilty plea to a felony information charging him with possession of child pornography. In his plea agreement, Quiroz admitted that from Feb. 2013 through Oct. 2013, he communicated with the victim, whom he knew to be a minor residing in a state other than New Mexico, through online chats, mail, email, telephone conversations and text messages. Quiroz admitted receiving sexually explicit photographs of the victim via email and unlawfully possessing the photographs in his email account.
This case was investigated by the Child Exploitation Unit of HSI’s office in Las Cruces pursuant to Project iGuardian, an HSI initiative designed to reach children, parents and teachers and share information about the dangers of online environments, how to stay safe online and how to report abuse and suspicious activity. The Las Cruces Police Department assisted in the prosecution of this case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Shapiro of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office 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 74 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the New Mexico ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the NMAGO. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.