BISMARCK, N.D. — A North Dakota man was convicted in federal court Friday of attempting to sexually exploit children.
This conviction resulted from an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI), the North Dakota State Parole & Probation Office (PPO), and the Morton County (N.D.) State's Attorney's Office.
Garron Gonzalez, 38, of Bismarck, was found guilty by a federal jury of attempting to persuade a 15-year-old child to send him sexually explicit visual depictions using a cell phone. The two had met while playing an online video game.
Conviction of attempted sexual exploitation of minors carries a mandatory sentence of 25 to 50 years in federal prison, and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing for Gonzalez will be scheduled for 90 to 120 days from now in U.S. District Court in Bismarck.
This investigation was conducted under HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line 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 & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.