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Ashland man arrested on child porn charges

An Ashland man faces federal charges accusing him of possessing images of children being sexually exploited.

Paul Michael Garcia, 40, was arrested last week by the FBI at his Ashland apartment after a search allegedly yielded close to three-dozen child pornography images, according to a document filed Feb. 19 in U.S. District Court in Medford.

The investigation started Feb. 10, when the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office got an alert from the makers of Kik, a social media application that lets users share digital pictures and videos. Kik contacted local law enforcement about an image of a girl about 8 years old that was uploaded July 16 from an account allegedly tied to Garcia.

Embedded data in the photo file flagged by Kik showed that it had been uploaded from Garcia’s iPhone using Kik username “paulfac3,” which was tied to his Gmail account, according to the FBI.

Kik Messenger is sometimes seen as more anonymous because the app doesn’t require users to tie their accounts to phone numbers, and users’ email addresses are hidden from other users.

On Feb. 11, the FBI seized Garcia’s white iPhone X smartphone and allegedly found 33 explicit images on it, according to an affidavit by an agent involved in the case. Five the files were described in graphic detail, describing naked pictures of prepubescent girls between the ages of about 8 and 13.

On Garcia’s iPhone were photos of apparent 10-, 11- and 13-year-olds in explicit poses, police said. The files showed they had been downloaded to Garcia’s phone from March 18 to Oct. 20.

The phone was one of 14 digital items seized from Garcia’s apartment in the 400 block of Allison Street.

Two days before his arrest, the FBI reportedly questioned a friend of Garcia’s who told the FBI that Garcia was selling his possessions so he could raise enough money to leave the country, according to the affidavit.

Garcia was arrested Feb. 19 on charges of transporting and possessing child pornography, and U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke denied early release on the pending charges Friday.

Another hearing on whether Garcia should be released from jail is scheduled for Monday, March 2, U.S. District Court records show.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Paul Michael Garcia