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Mexican national heads to prison for child porn conviction

BROWNSVILLE, Texas – A 24 year-old Mexican national who illegally resided in San Juan has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of possession of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. Ernesto Vitela pleaded guilty May 23, 2019.  

Today, U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera Jr. ordered Vitela to serve 78 months in federal prison and ordered he pay $27,000 in restitution for the victims. He will also serve 20 years on supervised release, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender. Not a U.S. citizen, he is expected to face removal proceedings following his imprisonment.

On or about May 9, 2018, law enforcement initiated an investigation of an IP address that was identified as sharing child pornography. That investigation led them to Vitela’s address in San Juan. On Nov. 29, 2018, agents executed a search warrant at that location and seized a cell phone and other digital devices belonging to Vitela. A forensic analysis later yielded approximately 7,844 images and 582 videos of child pornography.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations-Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Task Force conducted the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ana C. Cano prosecuted the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ’s PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources tab on that page.

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