In Del Rio, federal authorities arrested 26-year-old Michael Martinez on multiple charges involving online sextortion, cyberstalking and child exploitation of three female victims, including one minor.
A seven-count federal grand jury indictment, returned Wednesday and unsealed late Thursday, charges Martinez with three counts of Internet stalking; one count of production of child pornography, one count of receipt of child pornography; one count of possession of child pornography; and, one count of coercion and enticement of a minor to engage in sexual activity.
According to the indictment, from October 2013 to August 2014, Martinez caused emotional distress to his victims by using the Internet and text messages to harass and intimidate them. Furthermore, Martinez allegedly threatened to post nude photographs he had of the victims on the Internet and send them to their respective family and friends unless the victims continued to supply him with additional sexually explicit photographs.
On August 21, 2014, FBI agents executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence. During the execution of the search warrant, investigators seized several computers, an assortment of computer related storage devices and the defendant’s cell phone. A forensics examination of the seized items revealed the presence of approximately a dozen images of the minor victim engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
Martinez, who was arrested Thursday, remains in federal custody pending a detention hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on August 18, 2015, before United States Magistrate Judge Victor R. Garcia in Del Rio.
Upon conviction, Martinez faces between ten years and life in federal prison for enticement of a minor; between 15 and 30 years imprisonment for production of child porn; between five and 20 years imprisonment for receipt of child pornography; up to 10 years imprisonment for possession of child pornography; and, up to five years imprisonment for sextortion.
This case is being 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 http://www.justice.gov/psc.
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ralph Paradiso.