CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – A Watauga County man was sentenced to seven years in prison Tuesday for transporting child pornography, the Charlotte U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. 

Luis Eduardo Nuñez, 27, of Sugar Grove, pleaded guilty in October 2022 to the charges following exchanges with an undercover agent. He is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. 

According to filed court documents and the June 6 sentencing hearing, beginning in May 2021, an undercover agent with Homeland Security Investigations reportedly observed that Kik Messenger user “thatguy246011,” later identified as Nuñez, was participating in private group chats dedicated to the distribution of child pornography. On multiple occasions, Nunez also used the app to post images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of children. 

Court documents show that the undercover agent made contact with Nuñezvia Kik Messenger. Over the course of the exchanges, Nunez expressed his interest in viewing and trading child pornography and sent the undercover agent child pornography. 

In July 2021, HSI also reportedly received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children concerning the same username, indicating that the user had uploaded 30 files through the app, most of which depicted child pornography. 

A month later, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Nuñez’ residence. Law enforcement seized his cellphone, which contained at least 154 images and 18 videos of child pornography on the device. In a voluntary interview, Nuñez admitted that he used Kik Messenger to transport child pornography and that he set up a new account on the app, using it to transport child pornography after his old one was shut down.  

The case was investigated by HSI, the State Bureu of Investigation and the Boone Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Mark T. Odulio of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte prosecuted the case. 

U.S. District Judge Kenneth D. Bell also ordered Nunez to serve 30 years of supervised release and to register as a sex offender after he is released from prison. 

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.