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Child Exploitation
12/18/2013

Tampa Bay resident arrested on federal child exploitation charges

TAMPA, Fla. – A Tampa Bay resident was arrested Monday and charged with multiple federal child exploitation offenses following an investigation by the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force consists of multiple law enforcement agencies, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Clearwater Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Carlos Santiago Garcia, AKA Xavier Constatinos, 21, of Oldsmar, is charged with receipt, distribution and possession of child pornography; attempting to coerce or entice a minor to engage in sexual activity through any facility of interstate commerce; and attempted transportation of a minor in interstate commerce to engage in illicit sexual activity. If convicted, Garcia faces between five and 20 years in federal prison on the child pornography charges, and between 10 and 30 years in federal prison on the enticement charges.

According to the complaint, Garcia posed online under the pseudonym Xavier Constatinos. He also purported to be a minor female on Facebook to lure and recruit another minor female victim to meet him to travel out of state to engage in sexual acts. As Garcia arrived at the victim’s residence and assisted her with placing her suitcase into his vehicle, members of the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force arrested him. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement officers found marijuana, vodka, a written itinerary for the trip and other items indicative of "grooming" for sex acts in Garcia’s vehicle. Law enforcement also examined several of Garcia’s email accounts, which revealed hundreds of images of child pornography. A federal judge ordered Garcia detained without bond pending further proceedings.

A complaint is merely a charge that probable cause exists that a defendant has committed a violation of the federal criminal law, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

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 the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of 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.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI’s Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.