Roswell Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Child Exploitation Charge
ALBUQUERQUE – Jim Walter Qualls Jr., 28, of Roswell, N.M., pled guilty today in federal court in Las Cruces, N.M., to child exploitation charges. The plea was entered without the benefit of a plea agreement. The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas.
Qualls was arrested on child pornography charges on July 31, 2014, based on a criminal complaint charging him with receipt and distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography and enticement of a minor to engage in any sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing visual depiction of such conduct. The criminal conduct occurred between Oct. 2013 and Feb. 2014, in Chaves County, N.M. According to the criminal complaint, HSI agents from Las Cruces, N.M., executed a search warrant on Qualls’ residence after the location was identified by law enforcement as having an internet protocol (IP) associated with uploaded images of child pornography to the internet. HSI agents confiscated Qualls’ cell phone which allegedly contained visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual activity.
Qualls subsequently was indicted on Oct. 16, 2014, and charged with four counts of persuading and enticing a minor child to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of that conduct and transporting those images through the internet.
During today’s proceedings, Qualls pled guilty to the indictment. At sentencing, Qualls faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years in federal prison on each of the four counts in the indictment. If the court determines that Qualls’ criminal history includes a prior conviction for a sexual offense, Qualls faces a statutory mandatory minimum of 25 years and maximum of 50 years of imprisonment on each count of the indictment. Qualls remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing which has yet to be scheduled. Qualls will be required to register as a sex offender after completing his term of imprisonment.
“The United States Attorney’s Office, together with our federal, state, local and tribal partners, will continue to prioritize cases involving the exploitation of children,” U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez said today. “Those dedicated to investigating and prosecuting crimes against children will continue to search out those individuals who traffic in this obscene material and bring them to justice.”
“Investigations such as these underscore HSI's resolve to engaging our law enforcement partners to search out predators who sexually exploit young children,” said Waldemar Rodriguez, Special Agent in Charge of HSI El Paso.
This case was investigated by the Las Cruces office of HSI and the Roswell Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander B. Shapiro of the U.S. Attorney’s Las Cruces Branch Office is prosecuting this case.
The case was 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 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 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 Attorney General’s Office. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.