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Woman arrested in decade-old US child porn case



Deputy Assistant Director Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Public Affairs Cathy Milhoan displays posters of suspects during a news conference at ICE headquarters in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, where ICE Director John Morton announced the results of a major operation that identified and rescued sexually exploited children worldwide. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

LOS ANGELES— A woman suspected of making and appearing in child porn photos a decade ago was arrested hours after authorities released images of her taken from those shots, federal officials announced Friday.

Letha Mae Montemayor, 52, was taken into custody outside a San Fernando Valley apartment complex after authorities received several tips.

She could make a court appearance later Friday on charges of producing child pornography and conspiracy, officials said. Each charge carries a minimum 15-year prison sentence.

An unidentified man also seen in the photos was still being sought.

It was not immediately clear whether Montemayor had obtained a lawyer, and there was no public telephone listing for her.

Montemayor was arrested fewer than 10 hours after federal authorities announced that they were looking for a man and woman who appeared to be molesting a girl who looked to be about 13 in photos that were widely circulated online.

Forensic experts believe the shots were taken about 11 years ago in the San Fernando Valley. A phone book and calendar were seen in the shots, officials said.

The images were first discovered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Chicago in 2007.

The woman in the photos had several distinctive tattoos, including a butterfly on her hip and a curled-up cat on her right shoulder.

“This arrest would not have happened without the public’s help, and it demonstrates how much individual citizens can do to help law enforcement attack crime,” ICE Director John Morton said in a statement.

The then-unknown adults in the photos were charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography and production of child pornography. The criminal complaint listed them as “John Doe” and “Jane Doe.”

The arrest “brings us one step closer to vindicating the victim and helping to regain some dignity for all victims of child exploitation crimes,” U.S. Attorney André Birotte said in the statement. “We still want the public’s help in identifying John Doe and the victim in the disturbing series of images that continue to be circulated on the Internet.”

The images released by authorities did not show the girl.

The search was announced Thursday in connection with an international investigation of child pornography dubbed “Operation Sunflower” that resulted in more than 200 arrests.

Morton said 123 child victims were identified during the five-week investigation, which ended in early December. ICE and other authorities found 110 victims in 19 states. Others were living in six countries.

The victims ranged from less than 1 year to 17 years old. Morton said 44 of the victims were living with people suspected of abusing them.


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Tags: child porn case , child pornography , ICE , ICE agents , Letha Mae Montemayor , prison sentence , U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement , US child porn case




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