United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Texas

11/30/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 11/30/2023 18:12

Substitute teacher sentenced for extorting sexual images via SnapChat

Press Release

Substitute teacher sentenced for extorting sexual images via SnapChat

Thursday, November 30, 2023
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

McALLEN, Texas - A 31-year-old Mission resident has been sent to federal prison for coercion and enticement of a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Edgar Aaron Hernandez pleaded guilty March 31.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane has now sentenced Hernandez to 120 months in prison. The court also heard additional information today including that Hernandez admitted to requesting nude images from numerous minor victims via Snapchat and would engage in this conduct while at work. Hernandez also possessed over 1,000 additional images and videos of child pornography across various platforms. The Court also heard from victim impact statements detailing the lifelong effects of fear and shame victims of coercion feel. Hernandez was further ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution to a known victim and will serve 7 years of his life on supervised release following completion of his prison term. During that time, he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children and the internet. Hernandez will also be ordered to register as a sex offender.

"We leave our children with teachers on a daily basis because we trust them," said Hamdani. "Hernandez breached that trust when he used his experience with children to abuse and exploit them. He extorted our most vulnerable to get what he wanted with no regard for their well-being or how his actions would affect them. But, thankfully, with this sentence, justice has forced this predator to exchange one piece of clothing for another; a teacher's cape for an orange prison jumpsuit."

"With the ever-increasing access criminals have to communication platforms, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) must stay a step ahead of those who utilize the technology to exploit victims. The defendant in this case will serve the next 10 years in prison for his unfathomable acts," said Special Agent in Charge Craig Larrabee, HSI San Antonio. "This sentencing sends a powerful message to those who would prey on the innocent and serves as a reminder that HSI will unceasingly pursue child predators."

"Today's sentencing is a reminder that the Secret Service is committed to investigating electronic crimes involving child exploitation," said Resident Agent in Charge Brian Gibson, U.S. Secret Service - McAllen Resident Office. "The success in this case demonstrates the investigative capabilities of the Secret Service and the collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners. Together we will continue pursing these bad actors and protect the nation's most vulnerable population."

Between April 1-4, 2022, a 13-year-old minor child reported she sent nude images via SnapChat to a man in Texas named Edgar. He claimed to be 17-years-old and threatened to disseminate them if she did not send him additional nude images.

Law enforcement identified the IP address and traced it to a residence associated with Hernandez in Mission.

On Dec. 5, 2022, authorities contacted Hernandez at Mission High School where he was employed as a substitute teacher. He admitted he believed the minor to be 13, soliciting sexually explicit images and videos via SnapChat and threatening the victim when she refused to send additional images and videos.

Hernandez further admitted to soliciting nude images and videos over the last two years from other minor children. If they refused, he threatened to expose them to their family and friends. Some of the minors told Hernandez they would commit suicide or harm themselves if he exposed them. Hernandez admitted that this did not bother him and would block the victim before seeking additional victims to coerce images from.

Law enforcement discovered approximately 1,000 videos and images of child exploitation materials on his Dropbox, Mega, and SnapChat accounts.

Hernandez will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

U.S. Secret Service conducted the investigation with assistance from the Springfield, Illinois, Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations - Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigations Task force.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alexa D. Parcell and Cahal McColgan prosecuted the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ's PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources link on that page.

Updated November 30, 2023
Topic
Project Safe Childhood