James Wean Jr., 49, is charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping after being arrested near a gas station in Pin Oak, Texas, the evening of Aug. 21.
For the past two weeks Wean had been communicating online with a Sheriff's office special crimes detective who was posing as a teenage girl. Wean drove to Texas from his home in Pearl City, Ill., a small town southwest of Springfield, Ill., near the Missouri border.
Wean originally was communicating with a real girl in Texas. When her parents noticed a strange exchange on Facebook they took away the girl's electronic devices and called the Sheriff's office. The indication given to the detective online was that Wean was planning to take the girl away, possibly out of the country.
A team of detectives and deputies captured Wean near a gas station not far from Interstate 10. He is being held in the Fort Bend County Jail without bond and is scheduled to appear before a magistrate Thursday.
A second-degree felony carries a punishment of up to 20 years of incarceration with a possible fine not to exceed $10,000.
This investigation was 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-2ICE 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.