Suspect in dormant APD child porn case accused of rape


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Ruben Albert Nieto was behind bars Friday night at the Metropolitan Detention Center on a $20,000 bond, accused of downloading and sharing dozens of graphic videos and photographs depicting child pornography.

For the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s detectives who arrested the 45-year-old Albuquerque man, the case against Nieto was largely complete by the time they got it prepared through months of investigation and online research conducted by the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children task force, overseen by the state Attorney General’s Office.

But KRQE News 13 has learned that a similar case against Nieto — 21 suspected child porn files associated with his home and Internet Protocol addresses — went without investigation early last year after AG’s investigators handed it over to a different law enforcement agency: the Albuquerque Police Department.

The consequences of APD’s inaction, News 13 has learned, were heartbreaking.

While the child pornography case sat dormant for months, Nieto’s teenaged daughter made an allegation that he raped her.

Ordinarily, News 13 makes every effort to protect the identities of alleged rape victims. In this case, BCSO issued a news release earlier this week that said Nieto was a suspect in the rape of his daughter.

AG Gary King said he learned of the timeline in Nieto’s case from News 13. In an interview Friday afternoon, King said he was “concerned” and looking for answers.

“We’re really concerned and disturbed whenever they commit another crime,” King said. “And so we want to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to protect these children.”

News 13 left a voicemail for an APD spokeswoman and sent a detailed email seeking comment on Friday. Department officials did not respond.

APD got a second chance at Nieto in the alleged rape case. After the girl made the allegation, the department’s Crimes Against Children Unit launched an investigation.

A records technician at APD refused to provide documents related to that investigation, saying it is the department’s policy to not release reports for cases in which the alleged victim is a juvenile.

The CACU detectives did a safe house interview with the girl, and a sexual assault nurse gathered forensic evidence, News 13 has learned. However, the APD detectives did not formally interview Nieto. Nor did they collect a DNA sample from from him. And Nieto was not arrested.

Instead, the CACU detectives forwarded the case to the Bernalillo County District Attorney’s Office.

Officials at the DA’s Office confirmed that they received the case, but would only say that it is “under review.” The DA’s Office would not provide records related to the case.

Nieto has not been indicted.

The girl, according to court documents, was removed from Nieto’s home by the state Children, Youth and Families Department following the rape allegation last April. A spokesman for CYFD would not comment on the case, but court documents show that the girl has been kept out of the home ever since.

While that case has languished, so has the raft of evidence in the child porn case AG’s investigators handed to APD early last year.

Multiple veteran law enforcement officers who spoke to News 13 said cases prepared by the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, known as ICAC, are solid by the time they’re handed over to detectives.

It’s just a matter, the officers said, of writing a warrant, getting a judge to sign it, then waiting for a guilty verdict.

News 13 reviewed several cases that originated with task force investigations. Many of them ended with lengthy prison terms for offenders who were convicted of manufacturing child porn and other charges.

“I think that it’s probably the most important work that the AG’s office does,” King said, adding that his office oversees the task force, which is composed of more than 70 other agencies — including APD and BCSO — and funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Justice.

King said, “In a case where we think a child might be at risk … I think that that should be a highest priority for the agency that’s handling the case … Certainly it’s a concern to us if a tip that we gave was not followed up on in a timely manner.”

In Nieto’s case, that appears to be exactly what happened, despite a computer disk full of technical evidence handed over by an ICAC task force agent.

News 13 has learned that the agent discovered suspected child porn file sharing through a computer associated with Nieto’s IP address again in January of this year. For two months, the agent built a case.

In April, the agent tracked the IP address to Nieto’s Southeast Albuquerque apartment, News 13 has learned. And that’s when the agent realized that he’d seen that address before — a year prior, when he prepared a case and delivered it to APD.

The agent took the new and old evidence and, this time, handed it over to BCSO detectives earlier this month, News 13 has learned.

BCSO took it from there. Detectives went to Nieto’s home to arrest him, but learned that he had recently moved out. So they tracked him to the Albuquerque Public Library’s main branch downtown.

BCSO detectives questioned Nieto, according to Sheriff’s officials, and he told them he had been involved with child pornography since the 1990s.

The detectives arrested Nieto and booked him in to the Metropolitan Detention Center. Meanwhile, their investigation is ongoing as they search for more potential victims.

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