Florida man sentenced for traveling to Dominican Republic for child sex
MIAMI – A Florida man was sentenced Thursday to more than 17 years in prison and 30 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to traveling to the Dominican Republic for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with minors. The sentencing is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Miami and the Dominican Republic.
According to court documents, Theodore Williams Symonds, 51, of Wesley Chapel, Florida, travelled frequently between the United States and the Dominican Republic including a trip on March 20, 2017. Symonds was arrested March 23, 2017 by local Dominican authorities for crimes related to the sexual abuse of children. HSI began investigating him shortly thereafter and uncovered proof of Symonds’ sexual abuse of children, both in person and using the internet.
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg said, “The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners stand united against child exploitation and abuse. There is no immunity for these heinous crimes, whether committed at home or abroad. Any individual who victimizes the most vulnerable members of society, our children, can look to today’s sentencing to see there will be severe consequences within the U.S. federal criminal justice system.”
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 16,000 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 2017, more than 2,700 child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 900 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 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.