You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Prior Sex Offender from Silver City Pleads Guilty to Child Exploitation and Child Pornography Charges

Plea Agreement Recommends Prison Sentence of 20 to 25 Years Prosecution Brought Under Project Safe Childhood

ALBUQUERQUE – This morning in Las Cruces, N.M., Michael Ray Sepulveda, 38, of Silver City, N.M., pled guilty to federal child exploitation and child pornography charges. The plea agreement recommends a sentence within the range of 20 to 25 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release. Sepulveda will be required to continue to register as a sex offender after he completes his prison sentence.

 

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, immediately after learning about his crimes while investigating other conduct.

 

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

 

During today’s proceedings, Sepulveda pled guilty to a felony information charging him with child exploitation and receipt of child pornography. In entering the guilty plea, Sepulveda admitted that between July 29, 2015 and Nov. 15, 2015, he attempted to persuade the victim, a minor, to produce pornographic images of the victim and attempted to meet the victim to engage in sexual activity through a social media website. Sepulveda further admitted that while communicating with the victim, Sepulveda claimed to be a teenage female. Sepulveda admitted sending the victim images of female genitalia and heterosexual pornography and having sexually explicit conversations with the victim in an effort to induce the victim to produce child pornography for Sepulveda. According to the plea agreement, between July 29, 2015 and Nov. 15, 2015, in response to Sepulveda’s requests for sexually explicit photos of the victim, the victim sent five pornographic images depicting the victim to Sepulveda.

 

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sepulveda will be prohibited from using or accessing the social media website he used to facilitate his criminal activity, and if Sepulveda wishes to become a member of, visit, or access any other social media website he must seek prior approval from his probation officer. Sepulveda also will be required to pay $15,000 in restitution to the victims of his crimes. Sepulveda remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

 

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(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated May 24, 2017