MIAMI - A local resident was arrested Oct. 14 on "sex tourism" charges for allegedly traveling to the Philippines in 2007 and 2008 to have sex with minors. Special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Postal Inspectors made the arrest.
Donald Mathias, 69, whose last known residence was in Davie, Fla., was charged in a criminal complaint filed on Sept. 29 in the U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place, and traveling in foreign commerce to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
According to the charges, Mathias arranged with the mother of two girls in the Philippines to travel there in April 2007 and December 2007 to have sex with the minors and thereafter, traveled to the Philippines. Mathias also arranged travel to the Philippines in December 2008 to again have sex with the minors. Philippine authorities, however, received information about the arrangements and rescued the children before they met Mathias.
Mathias made his initial appearance on Oct. 15 in the U.S. District Court in Miami. U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry L. Garber ordered Mathias held without bond pending a detention hearing on Oct. 19.
The charges against Mathias carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being investigated by ICE and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) C3/Child Exploitation Unit, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Anitha Ibrahim of the DOJ's Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Marlene Rodriguez, Southern District of Florida.
This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide ICE initiative to identify, investigate and arrest those who prey on children, including human traffickers, international sex tourists, Internet pornographers, and foreign-national predators whose crimes make them deportable. Launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested almost 12,000 individuals through Operation Predator.
ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423. This hotline is 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.
Charges in a complaint or indictment are merely accusations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.