Federal child pornography charges have been filed against a Phoenix man who allegedly used the internet and a cellphone to share illicit videos he claimed showed his own son being sexually abused.
Henry Salome Ramos was taken into custody June 9 following a probe by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) into the dissemination of videos and images of young boys involved in sexual contact with adults. He is set to appear at the U.S. District Court in Tucson on July 30 for a detention hearing that has been delayed several weeks due to COVID-19 protocols.
According the criminal complaint filed June 10 by an HSI special agent, a cellphone number later traced to Ramos was used Feb. 7 to send a text message which read “Trade young videos for some clear.” The agent noted that clear is a term often used for methamphetamine.
The same phone was also used to send a video of an adult male performing oral sex on a young boy about 3-years-old, the complaint notes. Several days later, the phone was used to send photographs of an older boy engaged in sexual contact with an adult, along with text messages which claimed the boy was the son of the person sending the images.
Ramos, 36, was interviewed by investigators June 9.
“During the interview, Ramos admitted the cell phone number…was his, and admitted to searching for, downloading and trading child pornography over the internet and cellular network,” the special agent wrote.
Ramos was arrested the same day and ordered to remain in custody until a federal magistrate judge could conduct a detention hearing within a few days. But the scheduling of that hearing has been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions at the courthouse and quarantine protocols at the pretrial detention center.
The parties hope to conduct the hearing with Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Rateau on July 30. At issue is whether Ramos will be released from custody prior to trial, and if so, under what conditions.
In the meantime, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carin Duryee requested an additional 30 days in which to seek an indictment against Ramos. The prosecutor noted that the federal grand jury for the U.S. District Court in Tucson remains suspended due to COVID-19 issues and therefore it was impossible to obtain an indictment prior to the July 9 deadline.
“There is a great backlog of cases that need to be presented due to the suspension, and the government will need time to summon witnesses to present these cases, prepare the required forms, and set aside sufficient time before the grand jury within its usual scheduled meeting times to present each case affected by the suspension of grand jury proceedings,” Duryee noted. “Therefore, an extension of the time to indict is in the interest of justice.”
Duryee also asked for the extension period not count against Ramos’ rights under the Speedy Trial Act. Henry Jacobs, Ramos’ court-appointed attorney, objects to the extension, which Rateau will rule on shortly.