Investigation involved New Mexico Attorney General's Office

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FARMINGTON — A Blanco woman has been arrested and accused of possession and distribution of child pornography following an investigation involving the San Juan County Sheriff's Office and the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.

Cheryl Stewart, 46, was arrested Thursday and accused of a third-degree felony count of sexual exploitation of children (by distribution) and a fourth-degree felony count of sexual exploitation of children (by possession), according to court records.

She was incarcerated Monday at the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.

Stewart is accused of being in possession of a video believed to be child pornography on a computer and distributing the file through the BitTorrent network, and having another computer download the file, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

A special agent for the state attorney general's office sent a tip on March 14 to a detective for the San Juan County Sheriff's Office regarding a possible file sharing of child pornography in San Juan County.

A report given to the sheriff's office showed an IP address allegedly tied to Stewart's residence in Blanco which had shared a video of child pornography, according to court documents.

The special agent also completed a download of a torrent containing the video from the IP address allegedly tied to Stewart's residence.

Detectives for the sheriff's office obtained a search warrant for the residence and executed the warrant on March 15. Several cell phones and a laptop computer were recovered.

During two separate interviews at the residence and at the sheriff's office building, Stewart is accused of not providing straight answers and changing her answers to questions posed by detectives.

She also told a detective the laptop computer doesn't work and several of her online accounts had recently been "hacked."

A forensic copy of the hard drive in the laptop computer from Stewart's residence was made on March 20.

A BitTorrent application was installed on the computer's hard drive and a detective found a copy of the alleged video of child pornography, according to court documents.

Stewart's preliminary hearing is set for 10 a.m. Thursday in Aztec Magistrate Court.

She had a warrant for failure to appear on a conviction for selling or giving alcoholic beverages to a minor when she was arrested last week, according to court records.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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