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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Former Florida resident pleads guilty to attempted sex trafficking in Ecuador

ORLANDO, Fla. — A former Florida resident pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempting to induce and facilitate, for his own financial gain, the travel of an individual from Florida to Ecuador, so that the individual could engage in illicit sexual conduct with minor girls. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) offices in Cocoa Beach and Quito, Ecuador, and the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

Patrick R. Minga, 50, formerly of Cape Coral, faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 20.

"This case illustrates HSI's domestic and international commitment to combating those who try to profit from the exploitation of minors," said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge for HSI Tampa.

During the change of plea hearing, Minga admitted that he advertised, on Craigslist, a sex tourism business in Ecuador that could facilitate lodging, transportation, meals, and unlimited access to females for a fee. An undercover task force agent observed the ad and contacted Minga. Over the course of several months, Minga tried to induce and arrange the travel of the undercover agent from Florida to Quito, where Minga advised that he could provide sexual encounters with minors as young as 13 and 14 years of age.

On March 2, Minga traveled from Ecuador to the United States, where he was arrested by agents in Huntsville, Alabama. Minga will remain detained pending further proceedings.

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 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

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. 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.