Operation Artemis: Multi-Agency Statewide Operation Targets Child Pornography Offenders
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 30, 2012|
ALBUQUERQUE—U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales and New Mexico State Attorney General Gary K. King announced today that, during the past three weeks, federal, state, and local law enforcement affiliates of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force executed 13 search warrants as part of “Operation Artemis.” Operation Artemis was aimed at identifying individuals throughout New Mexico involved in the distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography through peer-to-peer file sharing programs.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement officers executed the unrelated federal and state search warrants at residences in Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Bosque Farms, Corrales, Hobbs, Los Lunas, and Santa Fe and seized computers and computer-related evidence related to child pornography offenses. To date, three individuals have been arrested for violating federal and state child pornography laws based on the search warrants executed as part of Operation Artemis.
Anthony A. Montoya, 50, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was arrested on March 5, 2012 and charged with possession of child pornography in the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court. Montoya has been released on a $35,000 bond.
Leverle J. Deans, 42, of Los Lunas, New Mexico, was arrested on March 7, 2012 and charged with possession of child pornography in the Valencia County Magistrate Court.
Ernest Brian Tucker, 57, of Corrales, New Mexico, was arrested on March 7, 2012 based on a federal criminal complaint charging receipt and possession of child pornography. According to court filings, a child under the age of 18 reported that she had been sexually molested by Tucker. On March 28, 2012, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Tucker with three counts of receipt of child pornography and two counts of possession of child pornography. If convicted, Tucker faces a minimum five years and a maximum of 20 years of imprisonment on each receipt charge and a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment on each possession charge. Tucker is detained pending trial based on a judicial finding that he poses a danger to the community.
All other matters are pending investigation. A criminal complaint is only an accusation. All criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales said, “At the heart of child pornography cases is our duty to protect our children from sexual exploitation. As long as we have people out there who victimize our children, we will continue to investigate and prosecute these cases. I want to thank the law enforcement officers who participate in the ICAC Task Force for their dedication to aggressively investigating those who sexually exploit our children and ensuring that these offenders are held accountable for their serious crimes.”
Attorney General Gary King said, “My office is committed to helping stop child predators any way we can...my message to them is that there is a bigger predator out there in cyberspace working to find them and put them in jail...it is the Attorney General’s Office and the rest of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Congratulations to my agents and all the others who made Operation Artemis a big success in New Mexico.”
The law enforcement agencies that participated in Operation Artemis include: Homeland Security Investigations, the New Mexico State Police, the New Mexico Attorney’ General’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Albuquerque Police Department, the Los Lunas Police Department, the Santa Fe Police Department, the Rio Rancho Police Department, and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Lab. The criminal cases generated by Operation Artemis will be prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office, and local District Attorneys’ Offices.
Operation Artemis was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.projectsafechildhood.gov.
The operation also was brought as a part of the New Mexico ICAC Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture Internet child sexual predators and Internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 61 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies associated with the ICAC Task Force, which is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Anyone with information relating to suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.