Hickory Man Is Sentenced To 50 Years For Sexual Exploitation Of A Minor And Possession Of Child Sexual Abuse Material
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Late yesterday, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced an Albuquerque, New Mexico man to 180 months in prison for transporting a minor with intent to engage in sexual activity and travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, announced Andrew Murray, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Reidinger also ordered Jacob Gardea, 24, to serve 10 years of supervised release and to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in North Carolina, joins U.S. Attorney Murray in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, beginning in August 2018, Gardea met the minor on the internet. Court records show that Gardea, who knew the victim was a 13-year-old female residing in Rutherford County, initially told the victim he was 16 years old. Also according to court records, in November 2018, Gardea traveled 1,500 miles, from New Mexico to North Carolina, picked up the minor, and traveled west toward New Mexico with her. Following an intense four-day search by law enforcement, Gardea was arrested by the FBI in Oklahoma.
Gardea is currently in federal custody. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentencings are served without the possibility of parole.
The FBI, the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Marshals Service led the investigation. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville prosecuted the case.