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LOS ANGELES – Within hours of federal authorities appealing to the public for help in a child pornography case with ties to the Los Angeles area, a woman charged as “Jane Doe” has been arrested outside her apartment complex in the San Fernando Valley.
Letha Mae Montemayor, 52, was taken into custody without incident at approximately 7:30 p.m. Thursday by special agents with ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and officers from the Los Angeles Police Department. Montemayor was identified by both her facial appearance and distinctive tattoos.
Montemayor was arrested less than 10 hours after the United States Attorney and officials with HSI announced the filing of a criminal case and released photographs of an unidentified man and woman – who at the time were known only as “Jane Doe” and “John Doe” – involved in a child sexual exploitation case (see: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2013/001.html).
At approximately 2 p.m. Thursday, authorities received the first tip via a call to the ICE Tip Line regarding the possible identity of “Jane Doe.” After this initial phone call, several corroborating leads were provided by members of the public. After further investigation, HSI special agents determined that Montemayor was the likely suspect. She was placed under surveillance and subsequently arrested.
“This significant development brings us one step closer to vindicating the victim and helping to regain some dignity for all victims of child exploitation crimes,” said United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. “With the help of the media and concerned members of the public, we were able to quickly identify the woman allegedly involved in this child pornography case. We still want the public’s help in identifying John Doe and the victim in the disturbing series of images that continue to be circulated on the Internet.”
Montemayor is charged as “Jane Doe” in a federal criminal complaint that alleges two counts – one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography and one count of production of child pornography. Each of those two counts carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison. Montemayor is expected to make her initial appearance in federal court on Monday afternoon.
The identity and whereabouts of the male suspect in the case, “John Doe,” remain unknown at this time, as does the identity of the victim. Federal authorities emphasized that the investigation is ongoing.
“Just after ICE’s nationwide plea for public assistance, five separate community tips led to the arrest of Jane Doe, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton. “This arrest would not have happened without the public’s help, and it demonstrates how much individual citizens can do to help law enforcement attack crime. The best way to protect innocent children from sex offenders is for law enforcement, educators, parents and concerned citizens to join forces and fight back.”
The criminal complaint alleges that “Jane Doe” – now believed to be Montemayor – was involved in the production of a widely circulated series of child pornography images taken about 11 years ago. Despite extensive investigative efforts, investigators were unable to determine the identity of the male and female in the photographs, which is what prompted the appeal for the public’s assistance. The pictures show an adult man and woman sexually molesting a girl who appears to be about 13. Forensic analysis of the images conducted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) led investigators to conclude they were produced in the Los Angeles area, specifically the San Fernando Valley.
The child pornography images in this case were first discovered in Chicago in 2007. The material was submitted to the Child Victim Identification Program operated by NCMEC, which determined the victim had not yet been identified and was not linked with other known child pornography images.
The search for “John Doe” and the victim in this case continues, and anyone with information or tips that can assist in the investigation is encouraged to call 866-347-2423 or visit www.ICE.gov/tips. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Tips may be reported anonymously.
Release No. 13-002