EL PASO, Texas - A federal judge Wednesday sentenced a 51-year-old man to more than nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with teenage girls in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted the investigation.
John Dickens Armstrong, a registered sex offender, was deported from Mexico at the Stanton Street Bridge in August 2007 where ICE special agents took custody of him. He has been in federal custody since then. ICE special agents obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong last year after learning that Ciudad Juarez police officers arrested him for engaging in sexual conduct with underage girls. ICE charged him with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place, a federal offense.
A U.S. citizen who travels out of the country for sexual activity with a minor may be charged with travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct, more commonly known as "sex tourism." In April 2007, Juarez police found Armstrong in his Juarez apartment with a 15-year-old El Paso girl, who later told authorities she engaged in sexual conduct with Armstrong in exchange for money and crack cocaine. The teenager, a U.S. citizen, lived in Juarez with her grandmother at the time.
ICE special agents also learned that Armstrong solicited under-aged girls in a Ciudad Juarez bar and paid them $40 to have sex with him. He was also known to offer them crack cocaine. Authorities seized items such as condoms, syringes, and pictures of Armstrong with teenage girls as well as pornographic videotapes from his apartment.
"So-called sex tourists such as Armstrong are in for a rude awakening," said Roberto G. Medina, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in El Paso. "ICE and its law enforcement partners on both sides of the border are vigilant to this crime. Although we cannot restore innocence to those who sexual predators have exploited and abused, we make sure that justice is served on their behalf."
In addition to the 110-month sentence, Armstrong also received 10 years of supervised release after he's released from prison. He must also register as a sex offender for the rest of his life under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA). He was already a registered sex offender in Arizona for a 1978 rape conviction.