Immigrant who entered country illegally convicted of sexual exploitation of minor, possession of child porn

Wednesday, June 20th 2018, 4:03 pm PDT
Wednesday, June 20th 2018, 4:03 pm PDT
By Rachael Thomas, Digital Content ProducerCONNECT

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday the conviction of an immigrant who entered the country illegally, who they say coerced and enticed a minor victim to engage in sexually explicit conduct and send him such images over the internet.

Victor Zalaya-Funez, a Honduran national living in Zachary, was indicted by a federal grand jury on July 12, 2017. He was charged with sexual exploitation of a minor and possession of child pornography.

Zelaya-Funez, 38, was tried on June 18, 2018. After the three-day trial, the jury unanimously convicted Zelaya-Funez on both charges. Evidence presented at the trial showed Zelaya-Funez had in his possession sexually explicit images of children and tried to coerce the victim into taking sexually explicit images and videos of herself to send to him. In private messages sent to the victim, Zelaya-Funez threatened to tell the victim's parents about the images of her if she did not send more. In other messages, Zelaya-Funez told the victim he cared for her and would take her to the movies.

Zelaya-Funez faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. He also faces a significant sentence for the possession charge, as well as fines, restitution, supervised release, and deportation upon his release.

Officials with the DOJ say Zelaya-Funez also faces a separate federal indictment for his illegal re-entry into the U.S.

"The aggressive prosecution of illegal aliens engaged in the sexual exploitation of children is a top priority of the U.S. Department of Justice generally and this office in particular. I commend the victim for her incredible courage and strength throughout these proceedings, and I thank the jury for their considered and thoughtful decision. I also greatly appreciate the outstanding efforts of the prosecutors and agents who worked tirelessly to bring this defendant to justice," said U.S. Attorney Brandon Fremin.