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February 4, 2015Amarillo, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

9 men in Texas Panhandle face federal charges following their arrest for online solicitation of a child for sex

AMARILLO, Texas — Nine men, who were arrested last weekend during a multi-agency investigation, now face federal charges for online solicitation of a child for sex.

These arrests and charges were announced by Acting U.S. Attorney John Parker, Northern District of Texas. The following agencies are investigating this case: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Texas Department of Public Safety, Amarillo Police Department, West Texas A&M Police Department, Canyon Police Department, Randall and Potter counties sheriffs’ departments, the Amarillo and Randall county district attorneys’ offices, and U.S. Marshals Service.

Each of the defendants has been charged in a separate federal complaint, just unsealed, with attempting to entice a child. Each made his initial appearance in federal court Feb. 4 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Clinton E. Averitte.

The following men who were arrested and charged are all residents of Amarillo, Texas, with the exception of Tidwell, who is from Pampa, Texas:

  • Aaron Joe Davis, 38,
  • Jeffery Robert Abraham, 31,
  • Kolby Shelb Kemp, 21,
  • Mario Simental, 27,
  • Brad Eugene Sharber, 44,
  • Daniel Lee Garcia, 37,
  • Robert James Tidwell, 20,
  • Charles Alexander Diaz, 20, and
  • Kyle Andrew Adair, 22.

According to the complaints filed, at some time between Jan. 29 and Jan. 31, 2015, the nine defendants communicated via email and/or text message with a child they believed to be 14 years old. In all but one case, the defendants believed the 14-year-old was female. In at least one incident, the defendant sent a sexually explicit photograph to the child he believed was 14 years old.

In all instances, a meeting time and place was arranged; and in all but two instances, the defendant was arrested at the location. Defendant Davis was arrested after fleeing and leading officers and agents on a vehicle pursuit through Amarillo. Defendant Garcia was arrested after leading officers and agents on a brief foot chase.

The statutory penalty for the offense as charged is not less than 10 years and up to life in federal prison, a $250,000 fine and up to a lifetime of supervised release. The government has 30 days to present the case to a federal grand jury for indictment.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joshua Frausto and Tim Hammer are in charge of the prosecution.

A federal complaint is a written statement of the essential facts of the offenses charged and must be made under oath before a magistrate judge. A defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence 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 2014, more than 2,300 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 1,000 victims identified or rescued.

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. From outside the U.S. and Canada, callers should dial 802-872-6199. Hearing impaired users can call TTY 802-872-6196. 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.