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Press Release

Former Marfa Substitute Teacher Gets 30 Years in Prison for Producing Child Sexual Abuse Material

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Texas

ALPINE, Texas – A Marfa woman was sentenced in a federal court in Alpine to 360 months in prison for production of child pornography.

According to court documents, investigators found that Sonya Conchita Murillo, 33, a former substitute teacher for the Marfa Independent School District, possessed child sexual abuse materials, including videos depicting Murillo sexually abusing a prepubescent child. Murillo was arrested June 7, 2023 and pleaded guilty to one count of production of child pornography in January.

Murillo’s former boyfriend, Patricio Javier Serrano, was sentenced in March to 97 months in prison for one count of possession of child pornography and one count of transportation of child pornography, aiding and abetting. Serrano had been charged in a separate indictment and pleaded guilty on Oct. 27, 2023.

“The fact that the judge delivered the maximum allowed 30-year imprisonment to this defendant for producing child pornography, is indicative of the utterly horrendous predatory acts Murillo committed,” said U.S. Attorney Jaime Esparza for the Western District of Texas. “I am very grateful to our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners for their work on this case. Rest assured, protecting the children in our communities is undoubtedly a top priority in this district, and child predators will be brought to justice.”

“Children trust their teachers and caretakers and Murillo betrayed that trust,” said Special Agent in Charge John Morales for FBI El Paso. “No child should ever have to question the motives of an adult they interact with at school or at home. A child should feel safe and not be subjected to sexual abuse. I want to thank the FBI Special Agents in our Alpine Resident Agency and our partners at Homeland Security Investigations, Marfa Police Department, and Texas Department of Public Safety who worked together to remove a child predator from our schools and neighborhoods.”

“Homeland Security Investigations aggressively pursues child predators, and cases involving people in positions of trust are particularly disturbing. In this case, the punishment is fitting of the crime," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Eric McLoughlin for HSI El Paso. “Today we are once again reminded of the need for constant vigilance—online and in our schools—to protect the most vulnerable among us."

The FBI, HSI, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Marfa Police Department investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amy Greenbaum and Kevin Cayton prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, 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 www.justice.gov/psc.

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Updated May 28, 2024

Topic
Project Safe Childhood