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Westminster resident charged with possessing, distributing child porn

Jose A. Portillo-Saravia
Jose A. Portillo-Saravia (Carroll County Sheriff's Office)

A Westminster resident who police say is not in the United States legally faces charges of possessing and distributing child pornography via social media.

Jose A. Portillo-Saravia, 41, had been living in the 200 block of E. Main St. in Westminster for about two months at the time of arrest and, prior to then, had resided in the unit block of W. Green St. in Westminster, according to charging documents.

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Portillo-Saravia has been charged with 18 counts of possessing child pornography and three felony counts of promoting/distributing child pornography, online court records show. Portillo-Saravia is being held without bond and has a bail review hearing scheduled for Friday.

A Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputy was assigned to investigate 15 online tips relating to one suspect Jan. 2, 2019, according to charging documents. A Baltimore County detective was originally assigned to the case but found the suspect’s Facebook account was linked to a Westminster address and then referred the case to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office.

Police found that the Facebook accounts of “Ariel Portillo” and “Heidi Portillo” sent and received videos of children performing sexual acts. Baltimore County police had been investigating the account of Ariel Portillo. The Carroll County deputy recognized that surname, which matched the surname of a suspect in another case related to child porn that the deputy had recently closed due to a lack of leads, charging documents state.

During the investigation, the Sheriff’s Office learned that a Heidi Portillo worked at a Westminster restaurant, according to the documents, and detectives followed Portillo home from work Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 to an East Main Street residence.

Police learned “Heidi” was actually Portillo-Saravia, who was arrested Jan. 22, according to charging documents. Police did not elaborate on how they confirmed the identity of “Heidi.”

Law enforcement databases showed Portillo-Saravia “does not have legal status in the United States” and was previously removed from the country, charging documents state.

During an interview with police, Portillo-Saravia initially denied sending or receiving child pornography, then confessed when police showed screenshots of the videos, charging documents read.

No attorney was listed for Portillo-Saravia in online court records. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.

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