Jesus Gaytan III was arrested during a traffic stop in December 2021 and admitted to being in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl.

Jesus Gaytan III was arrested during a traffic stop in December 2021 and admitted to being in a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. (Joseph Barron/U.S. Air Force)

AUSTIN, Texas — A 23-year-old Texas National Guard soldier who pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography in a federal courtroom Thursday was sentenced to six years in prison, according to court documents.

Jesus Gaytan III was driving a Ford Mustang with a teenage girl as his passenger when state police conducted a traffic stop Dec. 17, 2021, near Brackettville in west Texas, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas in Del Rio.

The state police officer learned the two were in a sexual relationship despite the girl being 16 years old. Gaytan, then 21, willingly gave his iPhone to police and provided the passcode so they could search it, according to court documents. Police found a video recorded about a month prior of the two having sex.

Gaytan later told investigators that he had been in a sexual relationship with the girl for the past year and he knew it was illegal because of her age.

“[The] defendant admitted that knew he would be in a lot of trouble if people found out about his sexual relationship with [the girl] and that they agreed not to tell anyone about that relationship,” according to court documents.

Police arrested Gaytan during the traffic stop, and he has remained in federal custody since, according to the Department of Justice. He pleaded guilty on March 14, 2022, to one count of possession of child pornography.

Federal agents with the Department of Homeland Security assisted the Texas Department of Public Safety with the investigation.

“Individuals who commit heinous acts of violence against children will be found and brought to justice,” said Craig Larrabee, Special Agent in Charge for the Homeland Security Investigations San Antonio Division.

In addition to prison, Gaytan was ordered to pay a $17,000 fine.

Gaytan is originally from Fort Worth, more than 350 miles northeast of Del Rio, but was activated in the area with the Texas National Guard, according to the Department of Justice. The Texas Military Department did not immediately respond to a request for Gaytan’s service record or his assignment at the time he was arrested.

Thousands of troops are in the region along the state’s border with Mexico as part of Operation Lone Star, a state-sponsored mission to deter criminal activity along the border.

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Rose L. Thayer is based in Austin, Texas, and she has been covering the western region of the continental U.S. for Stars and Stripes since 2018. Before that she was a reporter for Killeen Daily Herald and a freelance journalist for publications including The Alcalde, Texas Highways and the Austin American-Statesman. She is the spouse of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism. Her awards include a 2021 Society of Professional Journalists Washington Dateline Award and an Honorable Mention from the Military Reporters and Editors Association for her coverage of crime at Fort Hood.

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