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Child Exploitation

San Diego man sentenced to 11 years in prison for traveling to Colorado to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor

DENVER - A man from San Diego, Calif., was sentenced Monday to more than 11 years in federal prison for traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, District of Colorado, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Copp.

Georges Najjar, 33, was charged by Criminal Complaint on March 17, and indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver on April 8. He pleaded guilty before then Chief U.S. District Court Judge Edward W. Nottingham on July 29.

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Lewis T. Babcock sentenced Najjar to serve 135 months in prison on Nov. 24. Najjar was also ordered to spend five years on supervised release, and must register as a sex offender. Judge Babcock ordered Najjar, a national of Beirut, Lebanon, to be taken into custody immediately to begin serving his prison sentence. After he completes his prison sentence, ICE will place Najjar into deportation proceedings.

According to the stipulated facts contained in the plea agreement, on Jan. 29 an ICE special agent, acting in an undercover capacity, was on line in an Internet Relay Chatroom, where she observed an internet post made by an unknown male. The post stated that the man was interested in "sponsoring" a mother and her children. The ICE agent posed as a 27-year old single mother of two with a 4-year old girl and a 5-year old boy. The male, later identified as Najjar, chatted via the internet and talked on the phone with the undercover agent many times. During those chats and calls, Najjar stated that he was looking for a physical relationship with the woman as well as her children. Najjar further stated that he was in training to be a school teacher.

Najjar agreed to meet the undercover agent in Denver. On March 14, the defendant traveled on a flight from San Diego to Denver, Colo. When he arrived at Denver International Airport, he was met by the undercover agent and other ICE agents, and Denver Police officers. He was arrested and his luggage was seized. Children's toys, candy, DVDs and other items were found in Najjar's luggage.

"So-called 'sexual tourists' who prey on Colorado's children face federal prison," said U.S. Attorney Troy Eid.

"This significant prison sentence is representative of the heinous nature of the crime, and the continued danger Mr. Najjar is to children everywhere," said Jeffrey Copp, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Denver. "ICE's active Operation Predator program is designed to work closely with local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies to help protect children from predators like Mr. Najjar." Copp oversees a four-state area, which includes: Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.

This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), with support from the Denver Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Smith, District of Colorado.

This case was brought as part of "Project Safe Childhood." In February 2006, the Department of Justice launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney's Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

This case was also investigated under Operation Predator, which is a nationwide ICE 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. Since Operation Predator was launched in July 2003, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,600 individuals, including more than 300 in Colorado.

ICE encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE. 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.