Panama investigation leads to local child pornography plea
BROWNSVILLE, TS (STL.News) An 18-year-old Brownsville man has admitted to possessing thousands of images and videos of child pornography, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Irbenis Mederos Jr. pleaded guilty today to possession of child pornography.
On Sep. 28, 2020, authorities discovered the sexual exploitation of a minor child via social media. It was determined she was an eight-year-old U.S. citizen residing in Panama.
The investigation led to an IP address in Brownsville belonging to Mederos. Law enforcement conducted a search at his residence and seized a cellphone. Forensic analysis resulted in the discovery of 1,229 images and 110 videos of child pornography, approximately 55 of which were of the minor female in Panama. Several others also depicted child pornography involving infants and toddlers.
U.S. District Judge Fernando Rodriguez accepted the plea and set sentencing for Aug. 2. At that time, Mederos faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 maximum fine.
He has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Panama conducted the investigation along with HSI-Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigation Task Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nikki Piquette is prosecuting 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.