Bronx Couple Plead Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To The Sexual Exploitation Of A Child

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and James T. Hayes, Jr., the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (“ICE”) Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), announced that INOCENCIA ORTEGA and her husband, LUCIANO MENDEZ-ROJAS, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court for engaging in conduct that led to the sexual exploitation of a child. ORTEGA pled guilty today to conspiring to commit the sexual exploitation of a child and making false statements relating to a sex offense before United States District Judge Paul A. Engelmayer. MENDEZ-ROJAS pled guilty to committing the sexual exploitation of a child and distributing child pornography before Judge Engelmayer on June 11, 2012.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Child pornography is pernicious in all of its forms and it is something that will not be tolerated by this Office.”

ICE HSI Special Agent-in-Charge James T. Hayes, Jr. said: “Inocencia Ortega and Luciano Mendez-Rojas created a most unhealthy domestic atmosphere for their children by repeatedly exposing them to explicit activity. Mendez-Rojas also downloaded and distributed images and videos of other children engaged in explicit activity. These pleas bring an end to their abusive behavior and are a significant victory for all of us who want to keep these sexual predators from hurting children.”

According to the second Superseding Indictment, the Superseding Information, other court documents, and the defendants’ plea allocutions:

In July 2011, MENDEZ-ROJAS and ORTEGA engaged in sexually explicit conduct in their home in the Bronx, New York, while their minor child (the “Victim”) filmed videos of the conduct at the direction of MENDEZ-ROJAS.

On February 9, 2011, MENDEZ-ROJAS distributed child pornography over the Internet using file-sharing software.

Furthermore, in connection with the investigation, ORTEGA falsely stated to HSI agents that her children, including the Victim, never told her that they had seen child pornography. In fact, the Victim had already told ORTEGA that he/she had seen a video containing child pornography on a computer in the family’s home.

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MENDEZ-ROJAS, 38, and ORTEGA, 35, are both citizens of Mexico. MENDEZ-ROJAS faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison with a 15 year mandatory minimum. He is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Engelmayer on October 12, 2012. ORTEGA faces a maximum sentence of 13 years in prison. She is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Engelmayer on October 19, 2012.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of ICE HSI.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Kristy J. Greenberg and Daniel C. Richenthal are in charge of the prosecution.

ICE HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is staffed around the clock by investigators.