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Mexican National Illegally Residing in Lancaster, KY Sentenced to 30 Years for Production of Child Pornography

LEXINGTON, KY – The U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky is reporting that a Mexican national, illegally residing in Lancaster, Ky., Ernesto Mendez-Lopez, 37, was sentenced on Monday, to 30 years in federal prison, by Chief U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves, for production of child pornography.

According to his plea agreement, on February 22, 2023, law enforcement received a call from a minor victim stating that Mendez-Lopez had sexually assaulted her and that she was afraid it was going to happen again.  Law enforcement responded to investigate and discovered videos of Mendez-Lopez sexually assaulting the minor, on his phone. Mendez-Lopez admitted to sexually assaulting the minor, and to doing so with the intent of producing visual depictions of the conduct.

Under federal law, Mendez-Lopez must serve 85 percent of his prison sentence.  Upon his release from prison, he will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for life.

Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky; Rana Saoud, Special Agent in Charge, Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Sheriff Tim Davis, Garrard County Sheriff’s Office, jointly announced the sentence.

The investigation was conducted by HSI and Garrard County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Roth is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecuted this case as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. 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.

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