POSTED: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 6:51am
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 12:04pm
A 52-year-old California woman identified last month as one of two suspects sought in connection with a child pornography case linked to the San Fernando Valley was indicted Tuesday on federal charges.
Letha Montemayor Tucker, also known as "Butterfly," was named in the four-count indictment returned by a grand jury. It accuses her of conspiracy to produce child pornography, production of child pornography, conspiracy to engage in child sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of children.
If convicted on all counts, Tucker would face from 10 years to life in prison.
The woman's tattoos helped identify her. They include a sleeping, curled up cat on her right shoulder blade, a butterfly on her right-upper thigh and the word "butterfly" across her left outer wrist.
Tucker's public defender, Myra Sun, said she had not seen the indictment and had no comment.
The indictment comes a month after tips from the public led to Tucker's identification and arrest as one of two individuals allegedly involved in the production of child pornography images that were shot about 11 years ago. The pictures show an unidentified man and a woman, believed to be Tucker, sexually molesting a girl who was then 11 to 13 years of age, according to the indictment.
The time estimate is based on a 2001 calendar visible in some some pictures.
According to the seven-page indictment, Tucker and the girl -- identified in the indictment only as JMM -- lived together at about that time in a residential hotel in the Los Angeles area.
Tucker worked as a prostitute, gave JMM -- who was born in 1988 -- crack cocaine and directed her to engage in sexual acts with Tucker's male clients, it says.
In or about May 2001, Tucker contacted "John Doe" and asked if he would be interested in having sex with the girl in exchange for money, it says. Tucker then took the girl to his residence, where the girl and "John Doe" engaged in sex acts, which were photographed, it adds.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children concluded that the images were likely produced in the San Fernando Valley, a center for the production of pornography.
Homeland Security agents discovered the images in 2007, but did not locate the victim or determine the identity of the woman until January, when they appealed to the public for help.
Tucker is being held without bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in United States District Court on February 13.
The victim, now an adult, "is safe and is cooperating with the ongoing investigation," it said.
"The victim in this case was devastated when she learned from investigators that these sexually explicit images had been distributed over the Internet," said ICE Director John Morton. "The reality is, every time such images are viewed, the children shown are exploited yet again. That is why we owe it to these young victims to vigorously pursue these cases and hold the perpetrators accountable for their reprehensible crimes."
The images of the victim remain on the Internet. "They've been found in more than 300 separate locations," said Joey Blanch, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case and the deputy chief of the violent and organized crime section. "They're just out there, and there's almost nothing we can do to get them back."
The name and whereabouts of "John Doe" -- who appears to be 40 to 50 years of age in the images -- have not been determined. His face is obscured in the images, Blanch said. "If somebody knew him well, they might be able to recognize him from his hairline, and might recognize the apartment," she said.