The 33-year-old owner of a day care in New York City has been arrested and charged with a slew of child sex crimes after he was allegedly caught with “tens of thousands of images of child pornography” and sexually exploited at least one child under his care, authorities announced.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Sifredo Castillo Martinez appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein on Friday where he was formally charged with sexual exploitation of a child and production of child pornography, as well as receipt, distribution, and possession of child pornography.
“The crimes Castillo Martinez stands charged with today are nearly unimaginable,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement. “As alleged, while operating a licensed day care facility, he enticed an 11-year-old child to engage in sexually explicit conduct and made recordings of the conduct. Our children are some of our society’s most vulnerable members, and protecting them from predators remains a top priority for the FBI.”
Martinez owned and operated Lina’s Garden Day Care on Decatur Avenue in Williamsbridge from about July 2015 until May 2022, when he was arrested on state charges of predatory sexual assault against a child and other charges of sexually assaulting a child and possessing child sexual abuse material (CSAM).
Authorities began looking into Martinez in April 2022 after the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent the U.S. Secret Service a report showing that a Google user had uploaded images that appeared to depict CSAM on several occasions, the criminal complaint states.
The drive was registered to a “Silfredo Castillo” and the phone number associated with the account matched Martinez’s number, according to the complaint. The IP address was traced to the day care facility owned by Martinez, where authorities say he “served children as young as two months old.”
Federal and state law enforcement agents on May 3, 2022, executed a search warrant at Martinez’s residence where they seized around 30 electronic devices owned by him, authorities said.
“Those devices contained, among other things, several images and a video containing child pornography depicting Minor Victim-1 and approximately 9,800 other images depicting child pornography,” the release states.
In a subsequent interview with investigators, Martinez allegedly admitted that he was the user associated with the account that had uploaded the CSAM and “confirmed that he had recently uploaded child pornography to the Google Drive Account.”
Additionally, authorities say they obtained evidence showing that from May 2018 through at least July 2018, Martinez “induced an 11-year-old minor (Minor Victim-1) who attended the Daycare (sic) Facility to engage in sexually explicit conduct at the Daycare Facility, and [Martinez] recorded that conduct on his cellphone and camera.”
A forensic search of the seized devices showed that multiple images and videos depicted Minor Victim-1 being sexually exploited and sexually abused at the day care. Martinez’s stepmother identified the victim to authorities and provided his contact information. The victim’s mother confirmed that it was her child in the images and videos and confirmed that he had attended Martinez’s day care for several years.
Martinez was charged last year by state authorities with two counts of predatory sexual assault against a child, two counts of first criminal sexual act, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual act, first-degree sexual abuse, two counts of use of a child in a sexual performance, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, five counts of promoting a sexual performance by a child, and 12 counts of possessing a sexual performance by a child.
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