Weslaco man arrested for possessing a slew of child pornography files

Federal authorities arrested a Weslaco man this week who they suspect has thousands of files of child sexual abuse material.

Homeland Security Investigations special agents with the Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigations Task Force arrested Mark Casarez, a United States citizen born in 1999, after executing a search warrant at his home about 6 a.m. Tuesday.

The investigation into Casarez began May 11 when the Texas Attorney General’s Office made an investigative referral from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to the task force regarding a Dropbox account suspected of uploading multiple files of child pornography.

A month later, a special agent obtained the IP address for the account, which was registered to a residence in the 4000 block of Adare Street in Weslaco.

The special agent obtained a search warrant for the Dropbox account Sept. 22 and found 22 videos and 165 images of child sexual abuse material, according to the criminal complaint.

After executing the search warrant Tuesday, special agents transported Casarez to the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office’s East Substation where authorities say the suspect agreed to talk to agents without the presence of an attorney.

According to the criminal complaint, Casarez admitted to having the Dropbox account and to viewing child pornography.

He also told special agents about another account he had which contained about 19,000 files, authorities said.

“A brief review of this account showed multiple files of child pornography, with victims that appeared to be as young or younger than eight years of age,” the complaint said. “(Special agents) suspect a majority of the unreviewed files are also child pornography.”

The special agents said Casarez admitted he began downloading the illegal material in 2016.

Casarez, who is charged with receipt of child pornography, was temporarily being held without bond Thursday pending probable cause and detention hearings scheduled for Monday, court records indicate.