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Press Release

MDC corrections officer in court for possession of child pornography

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

            ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Craig Barnish, 43, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, made an initial appearance in federal court today facing a charge of possession of child pornography. Barnish will remain in custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for Aug. 27.

            According to a criminal complaint, in January of 2021, Barnish, a corrections officer at the Metropolitan Detention Center, allegedly participated in a group chat on the Kik social media app in which he allegedly commented on two videos depicting a nude child. Later that day in the same Kik group chat, Barnish allegedly uploaded a video depicting child pornography.

            After Barnish was identified as the user participating in the Kik group chat, he allegedly possessed multiple video files on his cellphone depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

            A complaint is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Barnish faces up to 20 years in prison.

            The FBI Albuquerque Field Office is investigating this case with assistance from the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory.

            The United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico is prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.  Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.

Updated August 26, 2021

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 21-167