Last Updated on June 7, 2023 7:54 am
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Luis Eduardo Nunez, 27, of Sugar Grove, N.C., was sentenced on Tuesday to 84 months in prison for transporting child pornography, announced Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered Nunez to serve 30 years of supervised release and to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison.
Ronnie Martinez, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in North Carolina and South Carolina, Robert Schurmeier, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI), and Chief Andy LeBeau of the Boone Police Department join U.S. Attorney King in making the announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, beginning in May 2021, an undercover agent with HSI observed that Kik Messenger user “thatguy246011,” later identified as Nunez, was participating in private group chats dedicated to the distribution of child pornography. On multiple occasions, Nunez also used Kik Messenger to post images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. Court documents show that the undercover agent made contact with Nunez via Kik Messenger. Over the course of the exchanges, Nunez expressed his interest in viewing and trading child pornography and sent the undercover agent child pornography. In July 2021, HSI also received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children concerning the same Kik messenger username, indicating that the user had uploaded 30 files through the app, most of which depicted child pornography.
On August 31, 2021, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Nunez’s residence. Over the course of the search, law enforcement seized Nunez’s cell phone. A forensic analysis of the phone’s contents identified at least 154 images and 18 videos of child pornography on the device. Court records indicate that investigators also spoke with Nunez at his residence. In a voluntary interview, Nunez admitted that he used Kik Messenger to transport child pornography. Nunez also admitted that he set up a new account on the app and used it to transport child pornography after his old one was shut down.
On October 7, 2022, Nunez pleaded guilty to transporting child pornography. He is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.
The case was investigated by HSI, NC SBI, and the Boone Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Odulio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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.