In a grave breach of trust and law, a 29-year-old man from Beeville has been sentenced to federal prison on charges of child pornography production and possession. U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani disclosed the sentencing on October 24.
Pasquale Salas, a former deputy with the Matagorda County Sheriff’s Office, has been handed down a sentence of 360 months and an additional 24 months for his crimes. This sentence will run with a previous 220-month sentence from a related case in Massachusetts, culminating in 384 months of incarceration.
The depth of Salas’ criminal activities was exposed through court documents detailing his interactions with a 12-year-old girl from Massachusetts. Their connection began on the seemingly innocent platform of Minecraft, a popular online game. Over time, Salas established a sexually exploitative relationship with the young girl, who was fully aware of her age.
Salas coerced the minor into sending him hundreds of explicit photos and videos, exercising control over her through rigid rules, dictating her clothing, and even monitoring her location. He did not hesitate to threaten harm to her family if she attempted to sever ties with him.
“Salas utilized Minecraft, a game beloved by children, as a hunting ground to ensnare his victims,” U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani stated. “His actions represent a gross violation of his duty as a law enforcement officer to safeguard the public. Instead, he exploited vulnerable young girls, betraying his badge and the community’s trust for personal and perverse satisfaction. The lengthy sentence ensures he is kept far from the digital and physical spaces where our children are present for a significant time.”
The case against Salas gained momentum in July 2019 when detectives from the Southern District of Texas executed a search warrant linked to the Massachusetts case. The search yielded damning evidence on Salas’ phone, including illicit materials involving several minors and a young female relative.
Officials report that a forensic investigation confirmed Salas produced the images involving the relative. In an alarming revelation, one video depicted him inappropriately touching the sleeping victim. The child identified herself in the materials, as well as Salas’ hands.
Salas is currently detained and awaits transfer to a federal prison, with the specific facility yet to be determined.
This case is a harrowing reminder of the vulnerabilities in online environments where children frequently gather and the need for vigilant supervision. It also underscores the tragic reality that those in positions of authority are not immune to committing heinous acts and the importance of the justice system in bringing such individuals to account.