January 18th, 2021

Plea expected in child porn case this month


By Delon Shurtz on December 4, 2020.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

One of three Lethbridge men arrested earlier this year following a child pornography sting is expected to plead to his charges when he returns to court later this month.
Lethbridge lawyer Darcy Shurtz explained Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court that the Crown prosecutor is preparing an agreed statement of facts, and the accused, Bryan Alas Hernandez, will likely enter pleas when his matter is back in court Dec. 16.
An agreed statement of facts typically provides the judge with details of the offences, to which defence agrees and the accused is expected to plead guilty. The Crown and defence do not always agree on a sentence, however.
Alas Hernandez, 19, is charged with single counts of accessing child pornography, possession of child pornography and distributing child pornography.
He is among 18 suspects from Alberta who were arrested between May and June by ALERT’S Internet Child Exploitation unit (ICE), for a total of 65 offences related to online child sexual exploitation.
Two other Lethbridge men were also charged in relation to the sting. Brandon Bran Equizabal, 26, faces identical charges and returns to court Dec. 16 when he is also expected to enter pleas. Yonatan Castro Linares, 26, pleaded guilty last month to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. He will also be on probation for one year following his release. Charges of accessing child pornography and distributing child pornography were withdrawn.
Most of the arrests came as the result of investigative referrals from the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre, which works with internet and social media providers to track and investigate online instances of child sexual exploitation.
ICE is an integrated team that includes members of Calgary police, Edmonton police, Lethbridge police, Medicine Hat police, and RCMP. ICE investigates offences involving child pornography, computer-related child sexual abuse, child luring over the internet, voyeurism involving victims under the age of 18, and child sex trade/tourism.

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