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Cortez and county officers assist FBI in arrest of suspect

Shiprock man arrested June 30 in Cortez

Cortez Police and the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office assisted the FBI in the arrest of a man suspected of alleged possession and distribution of child pornography, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Aaron Leon Happy, 40, of Shiprock, New Mexico, was arrested in Cortez on June 30, according to the Cortez Police Department.

Happy was arraigned in federal court on July 8 on an indictment charging him with alleged of possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and transfer of obscene materials to minors.

According to the indictment and other court records, Happy allegedly committed these offenses while employed as a health aide with the Central Consolidated School District in Newcomb, New Mexico.

On Dec. 15, 2020, the FBI executed a search warrant on Happy’s person, office and residence. Investigators allegedly found child pornography on one of Happy’s cellphones, a news release said.

The investigation revealed that Happy allegedly distributed adult pornography to a student at the middle school and child pornography to another person using the Facebook messenger application.

An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty, the Justice Department news release said. If convicted, Happy faces up to 20 years in prison.

The Farmington Resident Agency of the FBI investigated this case with assistance from the FBI Albuquerque’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, FBI Gallup Resident Agency, FBI Denver – Durango Resident Agency, San Juan County (New Mexico) Sheriff’s Office, Cortez Police Department and Montezuma County (Colorado) Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas J. Aliberti is prosecuting the case.