Jeremy Lee Barrera, a 36-year-old former firefighter with the Odessa Fire Department (OFD), admitted in federal court today to possessing child pornography and using his cell phone on the OFD network to access an online chat room where several videos were posted which depicted child pornography.
Appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Griffin in Midland, Barrera pleaded guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, HSI agents conducting an online child sex exploitation investigation identified two local IP addresses used by an account registered to a “Ray Jones” to enter an encrypted online group chat whose members were viewing child pornography. One IP address was registered to OFD Station #2; the other was registered to Barrera’s residence. Based on that information, agents executed a search warrant at Barrera’s residence on January 25, 2021. During that search, agents seized the defendant’s cell phone. A subsequent forensics examination of the cell phone revealed the presence of multiple videos and images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit activity. The forensics examination of the cell phone also discovered approval remarks by the defendant about child pornography posted in the chat room as well as requests for additional links to child pornography which he communicated in multiple chats using the moniker “Ray Jones”.
“Individuals, such as Barrera, who send or receive child pornography revictimize children each time these illegal images are distributed online,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Erik P. Breizke, El Paso Division. “Child exploitation is one of the most serious crimes HSI investigates, because of the lasting physical and psychological damage inflicted on innocent and vulnerable victims, and we will continue to pursue these perpetrators and ensure serious consequences for their heinous crimes.”
Barrera is currently in federal custody. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.
U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff and HSI Special Agent in Charge Breizke made the announcement.
HSI, together with the Odessa Police Department, investigated this case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shane Chriesman is prosecuting this case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the 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, 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.