Guatemalan National Detained on Child Pornography Charges
PROVIDENCE, RI –A Guatemalan national who was prevented from entering the United States illegally as he attempted to cross the U.S. border from Mexico in 2002 has been arrested in Rhode Island and ordered detained in federal custody on child pornography charges.
Samuel Mendez-Garcia, 42, of Providence, was ordered detained by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond today on a criminal complaint charging him with one count each of possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography.
An immigration detainer has also been lodged against Mendez-Garcia by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Mendez-Garcia’s arrest and detention are announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Peter C. Fitzhugh, and Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Colonel Ann C. Assumpico.
According to court documents, it is alleged that in late March the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received information from security personnel at Facebook that a user of their services, with an IP address in Rhode Island, uploaded child pornography. The Rhode Island State Police Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force reviewed the information and the postings, determining that the images and videos did in fact depict child pornography. Through their investigation, ICAC investigators determined that the IP address and the Facebook account belonged to Mendez-Garcia.
On July 19, 2018, members of the ICAC task force executed a court-authorized search of Mendez-Garcia’s residence, and seized a laptop computer and cell phone owned by Mendez-Garcia. Law enforcement officers also responded to Mendez-Garcia’s place of employment, and while speaking with him seized a cell phone that was in his possession.
On July 20, 2018, Facebook security personnel reported to the ICAC task force that additional images of alleged child pornography had been discovered on Mendez-Garcia’s Facebook account. A forensic analysis of one of Mendez-Garcia’s cell phones by a member of the ICAC task force allegedly revealed more than 50 videos and images depicting child pornography.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. McAdams.