The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Brevard County (Fla.) Sheriffs Office, and the Windsor (Conn.) Police Department.
Christopher Watts, 38, of Windsor, is charged in a criminal complaint. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison.
According to court documents, Watts responded to a posting in a public chat room that stated "dad has daughter." The posting was made by an undercover law enforcement officer investigating a particular free public website.
Watts told the undercover officer that it was a "big fantasy" of his to have sex with a 14-year-old child. Watts sent an explicit picture of himself to the undercover officer to confirm his interest in engaging in sexual activity with the minor and traveled from Connecticut to Brevard County where he was arrested.
This case will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos A. Perez and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Myrna Amelia Mesa.
HSI's ongoing efforts to target suspects involved in child exploitation offenses are part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.