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Hobbs man convicted of child sex crimes

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LOVINGTON — A Hobbs man has been found guilty of sex crimes in district court.

On March 27, Lorenzo Contreras, 45, was delivered the verdict of guilty from a jury of his peers in Fifth Judicial District Court on two felony charges of sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18.

On May 13, Contreras was sentenced by District Court Judge Mark Sanchez on the third-degree felony of child pornography distribution and the fourth-degree felony of child pornography possession. Contreras was sentenced to a total of 4 1/2 years in prison (three years for distribution, 18 months for possession) followed by three years of probation (two years for distribution and one year for possession).

Lea County Sheriff’s Deputy Vivian Martinez said the county’s investigation into Contreras started in late 2015 following a tip from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office.

“Around Nov. 2, 2015, we executed a search warrant on his property while he lived in Lovington,” said Martinez, who also handles the county’s sex offender registration. “This was in response from a referral from the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.”

The property where the search warrant took place was in the 600 block of North Eddy Street in Lovington. Martinez said shortly after the search Contreras moved to Hobbs, where he remained.

Martinez said through an initial undercover investigation by the task force, Contreras was found to have child pornography in his possession and he sent the child pornograhic materials to the undercover agent.

According to New Mexico Courts, the next three years Contreras’ case went through a series of appearances for continuances, pretrial conferences and various requests until his trial started March 25. As part of his conviction, Contreras is also required to register as a sex offender.

The Lea County Sheriff’s Office states Contreras is currently incarcerated in the Lea County Detention Center in Lovington and is also detained on an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold for illegal entry into the United States. According to an LCDC official, an ICE warrant for Contreras was issued on April 1.

The Lea County Sheriff’s Office expressed appreciation to the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the New Mexico Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory for their assistance in the case.

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