Salvador Salas, Jr., age 32, of Casper, Wyoming, was sentenced today to 2,040 months (170 years) of imprisonment, with 10 years of supervised release to follow if he were ever to be released from his term of imprisonment, for possessing and producing child pornography. A jury convicted Salas after a three-day trial, held in Casper, January 23-25, 2023.
The court ordered $132,056 in restitution to cover the expenses for the victim’s care and treatment and $600 in special assessments. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl imposed the sentence.
Based on trial evidence, Salvador Salas was a family friend who was entrusted with the minor victim, a 13-year-old girl. Salas, a graphic artist clothing designer and DJ, had offered to mentor the child, teaching her clothing and shoe design. However, the minor victim arrived home in the early morning hours of February 28, 2021, exhibiting signs of illicit substance intoxication, behaving strangely, and shaking. Her mother took the minor victim to the emergency room. There, she presented with burns on her lips consistent with a methamphetamine pipe and tested positive for methamphetamine. The mother sought the minor victim’s admission to the Wyoming Behavior Institute. The mother also reported to the police that the minor victim was with Salas at his home and had come home high.
Believing that Salas had supplied drugs to a minor, the Casper Police Department executed a search warrant at Salas’s home for evidence of drugs. Officers recovered methamphetamine, paraphernalia associated with methamphetamine use, cocaine, and buprenorphine. While there, officers developed probable cause to believe that Salas had taken sexually explicit images of the minor victim. The same day, officers executed a second search warrant at Salas’s home and collected his electronic devices.
On his devices, the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) found child pornography that had been downloaded from the internet, which featured the graphic sexual abuse of prepubescent children, and five videos and 47 photographs of the minor victim. The images of the minor victim depict Salas sexually abusing her. In the audio that accompanies the videos, Salas can be heard talking to the minor victim and remarking that she is just 13 years old. The videos and photographs were taken in Salas’s home.
As part of the follow up investigation, testing of the minor victim’s clothing revealed semen and Salas’s DNA in her panties. Additionally, Salas admitted to police that he engaged in sex acts with the minor victim and recorded it using his iPhone.
“The evidence in this case demonstrated that Salas is a sexual predator—someone who manipulated people that trusted him. He used his relationship with the minor victim’s mother to gain access to the child. Once he had that access, he supplied the child with drugs, making her even more vulnerable to his sexual abuse. This kind of trauma devastates the victims, the families, and the communities in which it occurs. The long sentence imposed by Judge Skavdahl is just punishment for Salas. Hopefully, it also can be the first step towards healing the victim,” said United States Attorney Nicholas Vassallo.
“Those who exploit children will always be a focus of FBI resources. Our partners like the Casper Police Department enable us to identify, prioritize, and investigate individuals who victimize children and to prevent future abuse,” said FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek. “While this man will no longer be able to harm children, we know his victim will continue to need support. The significant sentence and restitution in this case recognizes the lasting impact on the survivor of this horrific crime and provides for appropriate care and treatment.”
This crime was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, and the Casper Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Christyne Martens and Stephanie Sprecher.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Case Number: 0:21-CR-00077-SWS