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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Mexico

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 3, 2016

Prior Sex Offender from Silver City Facing Federal Child Exploitation and Child Pornography Charges

Prosecution Brought Under Project Safe Childhood

ALBUQUERQUE – This morning a U.S. Magistrate Judge sitting in Las Cruces, N.M., found probable cause to support a criminal complaint charging Michael Ray Sepulveda, 38, of Silver City, N.M., with child exploitation and child pornography charges.  Sepulveda remains in custody pending trial.

Sepulveda was arrested on Oct. 28, 2016, on a criminal complaint alleging that he enticed a child to engage in sexual activity and to produce child pornography, which was transmitted in interstate commerce.  According to the criminal complaint, Sepulveda committed these crimes between July 2015 and Nov. 2015.  Court filings reflect that law enforcement authorities began investigating Sepulveda for the alleged crimes in the summer of 2016 after learning about the alleged crimes while investigating other conduct.

According to the criminal complaint, Sepulveda allegedly used an online social networking website to engage in sexually explicit communications with a 14-year-old child (victim) between July 2015 and Nov. 2015.  In these communications, Sepulveda, who pretended to be a 16-year-old girl, allegedly sent sexually explicit photographs to the victim and persuaded the victim to send him sexually explicit photographs of himself to Sepulveda. Sepulveda also allegedly attempted unsuccessfully to meet with the victim for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

If convicted on the charge of enticing a minor to engage in unlawful sexual activity, Sepulveda faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison.  If convicted on the child pornography charge, Sepulveda faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 25 years and a maximum of 50 years in prison.  Sepulveda faces this enhanced sentencing exposure because of his prior conviction on a child sex crime, for which he was required to register as a sex offender. 

The charges in the complaint are merely accusations and Sepulveda is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and the Las Cruces offices of FBI and HSI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Dustin Segovia of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting the case 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 86 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.

Topic: 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated November 3, 2016