We're supposed to hold our public servants to a higher standard - especially those we trust with our lives and safety when a crisis occurs. That's what makes stories like this extra heartbreaking and disturbing.

An ex-firefighter with the Odessa Fire Department has admitted to accessing and possessing child pornography.

According to a press release from the United States Department of Justice, Jeremy Lee Barrera,36, admitted in federal court to accessing lewd images of children in an encrypted chat group using his fire station's internet connection.

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Barrera is currently in federal custody and is facing up to 20 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.

Investigators discovered two local IP addresses registered to a “Ray Jones”  being used to enter an encrypted online group chat whose members were viewing child pornography.  The first IP address was registered to OFD Station #2; the other was registered to Barrera’s residence.

Agents were able to secure a search warrant and searched Barrera’s residence on January 25, 2021. At that time agents seized Barrera's cellphone and found multiple videos and images depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit activity.

“Individuals, such as Barrera, who send or receive child pornography revictimize children each time these illegal images are distributed online,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Erik P. Breizke, El Paso Division. “Child exploitation is one of the most serious crimes HSI investigates, because of the lasting physical and psychological damage inflicted on innocent and vulnerable victims, and we will continue to pursue these perpetrators and ensure serious consequences for their heinous crimes.”

It's insane to see another trusted official admit to such heinous crimes against children. Thankfully Barrera is no longer a threat to the community, and I am grateful to the special agents who were able to intervene.

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