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Alfred Brown

Hagerman’s recently-retired chief of police, an employee of the Hagerman Municipal Schools, and three other individuals were arrested Thursday on various charges relating to the sexual exploitation of a child.

Chaves County Sheriff Britt Snyder reports the investigation began in the spring, and over the course of it, the CCSO was able to determine the five men were all involved in the crimes against a 15-year-old girl.

The victim’s mother reported she had discovered her daughter to be in possession of a cell phone she did not provide and that, after gaining access to the phone, she discovered “completely inappropriate” text and picture messages.

“We spent a considerable amount of time trying to identify those persons communicating on this cell phone with the woman’s daughter and trying to trace the origins of the cell phone itself,” said Snyder.

Cassius Mason

Thursday morning, CCSO deputies began serving warrants against the five suspects, and all five were in custody by 4 p.m.

Snyder says the case not only involved text and photo messages but also person-to-person contact with the victim.

Arrested in connection with the case were:

• Cassius Mason III, 66, of Hagerman. Mason recently retired as Hagerman’s police chief, and CCSO determined the crimes occurred while he was still acting in that capacity. Snyder says it was determined Mason was the person responsible for providing the cell phone to the victim. “When some of these facts came to light, I quickly alerted the Hagerman mayor, Cliff Waide,” Snyder said. “I commend Mayor Waide for acting quickly to protect the Town of Hagerman.” Mason faces charges of sexual exploitation of a child, child solicitation by electronic device, and criminal sexual contact of a minor.

Christian Torres

• Johnny Terrazas, 60, of Roswell. Snyder says Terrazas was found at a local liquor establishment having a beer at the time of his arrest and was also discovered to be armed with a loaded handgun that had been reported stolen in February. In addition to charges of sexual exploitation of a child, child solicitation by electronic device, criminal sexual penetration of a minor, and criminal sexual contact of a minor, Terrazas was subsequently also charged with unlawful carrying of a firearm in a licensed liquor establishment and receiving stolen property.

• Alfred Brown Jr., 58, of Roswell. Brown was employed by the Hagerman Municipal Schools as a custodian at the time the crimes occurred. “The Hagerman superintendent was notified by my detective sergeant around the same time as the mayor of Hagerman, and they also took swift action to protect the school district and their students,” said Snyder. Brown is charged with sexual exploitation of a child and child solicitation by electronic device.

Johnny Terrazas

• Nicholas Landers, 20, of Hagerman, charged with criminal sexual penetration of a minor and child solicitation by electronic device.

• Christian Torres, 21, of Roswell, charged with two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and one count of child solicitation by electronic device.

“I again want to commend the efforts of my deputies, detectives and supervisors who helped with this investigation,” said Snyder. “These types of cases require tremendous time and effort to complete. It is difficult to have to see and hear what one human being will do to another, and especially when the victim is a child.

“My deputies are especially committed to defending children who are often the victims of unspeakable abuse, and I admire them for their character through it all.”

Nicholas Landers