GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – A citizen and national of Brazil appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday charged with traveling internationally to have sex with two minors under 16 years of age and under 12 years of age. These charges were announced by U.S. Attorney John Walsh, District of Colorado, and Special Agent in Charge Michael A. Holt of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Denver.
Paulo dos Santos Silva Jr. was arrested on Feb. 25 by HSI special agents without incident at the Grand Junction, Colo., airport. At the March 1 appearance, Silva waived his right to preliminary and detention hearings. The magistrate judge ordered Silva detained without bond pending resolution of his case.
According to the affidavit supporting the criminal complaint, on Dec. 13 an HSI special agent working in an undercover capacity was chatting with an individual via the Internet. During the chat the conversation turned to the topic of sex. The undercover special agent was using a persona that she was a mother raising a 4-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old stepdaughter. The individual indicated his willingness to travel to the United States from Brazil to have sex with the three females (the mother and both girls).
The undercover special agent continued to chat with the individual. After multiple chats, the individual, Paulo dos Santos Silva Jr., decided to travel to Grand Junction, Colo. On Feb. 25, Silva arrived at the Grand Junction airport. The undercover special agent acting in her persona met Silva. Silva reiterated his desire to have sex with her and the two minor children. He was then arrested.
"We have no higher priority than protecting our children from sexual predators," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh. "This successful investigation has blocked sexual abuse of children and serves as a stern warning to those who engage in sexually explicit conduct with minors."
"This recent predator arrest of a Brazilian traveling to Colorado demonstrates that the sexual exploitation of children is an epidemic crime locally, nationally and internationally," said Michael A. Holt, special agent in charge of HSI Denver. "Our local HSI special agents worked closely with our HSI attaché office in Brazil to identify and then arrest this predator suspect." Holt oversees a four-state area, which includes Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
If convicted of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, Silva faces not more than 30 years imprisonment, and up to a $250,000 fine. If convicted of travel with intent to engage in a sexual act with a person under 12 years old, he faces not less than 30 years imprisonment, and up to life, as well as a fine of up to $250,000.
Silva is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer, District of Colorado.
A criminal complaint is a probable cause charging document. Anyone charged for committing a federal felony by criminal complaint has a constitutional right to be indicted by a federal grand jury.
These charges are only allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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. 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.