WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – A Boca Raton man was arrested June 7 at a local shopping center for sexually enticing a minor over the Internet. The charges resulted from an investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Boynton Beach Police Department and the Boca Raton Police Department.
According to court documents, Romero Mendoza, 26, used an online social networking application to contact and attempt to meet a person he believed to be a 15-year-old boy, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity. The individual he contacted was actually an undercover law enforcement officer, posing as a minor as part of a joint investigation to locate online predators. Before traveling to the pre-arranged meeting place, Mendoza sent a pornographic image to the undercover officer.
A pre-trial detention hearing has been scheduled for June 18 at 10:00 a.m.
Mendoza could face a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence and a statutory maximum penalty of up to life in prison to be followed by a minimum of five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release. In addition, he faces lifetime registration as a sex offender.
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.