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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Texas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 16, 2015

Local Mechanic Charged With Possessing Child Pornography

A Criminal Complaint Is A Formal Accusation Of Criminal Conduct, Not Evidence.

LAREDO, Texas – Gamaliel Cortez-Mendoza, 43, an illegal alien residing in Laredo, has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Janice Ayala in San Antonio and Webb County Sheriff Martin Cuellar. Cortez-Mendoza is a Mechanic at a local logistics company.

Cortez-Mendoza was arrested yesterday following an investigation by the Laredo Child Exploitation Task Force led by HSI and the Webb County Sheriff's Office Cyber Crime Unit with assistance from the Laredo Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and U.S. Marshals Service.

He made his initial appearance this morning, at which time he was temporarily ordered into custody pending a preliminary examination and detention hearing set for Jan. 23, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Diana Song Quiroga.

“This arrest illustrates the value of having a task force dedicated to protecting the children of this community,” said Ayala. “The concept for this task force was inspired by the many successes resulting from the strong partnership between HSI and Webb County, a partnership which was initiated at the direction of Sheriff Martin Cuellar.”

“Operation Child Guardian has proven to be a great success,” said Cuellar. “Since its inception in 2009, more than 40 suspected child predators have been taken off the streets. We will continue to aggressively target those individuals who prey on our children."

The criminal complaint alleges Cortez-Mendoza utilized the Internet to download images depicting a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Such images were allegedly downloaded multiple times over the past several months to a laptop computer that was seized from his possession.

If convicted, Cortez-Mendoza faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine. Upon conviction, he will also be required to register as a sex offender.

This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alfredo De La Rosa, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc and click on the tab "resources."

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Updated April 30, 2015