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March 21, 2022McAllen, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

ICE HSI led investigation results in 10-year sentence of a south Texas man for "catching a case" of sex tourism with minor

MCALLEN, Texas – A south Texas man was sentenced to 151 months for engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor in Mexico.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Task Force conducted the investigation with assistance from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Carlos Daniel Uribe-Garza, 23, from Edinburg, Texas was sentenced March 21 to 121 months, followed by five years of supervised release. He will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children. He will also be ordered to register as a sex offender. In imposing the prison term, the court noted Uribe-Garza is predatory toward minors. The court heard about Uribe-Garza’s repeated phone calls with the victim. During those conversations, he attempted to influence her not to cooperate with law enforcement and instructed her to send letters to the judge retracting her previous statements. Evidence was also presented that indicated Uribe-Garza was emotionally manipulative towards the victim and had associates confront her and her family at their residence. The judge considered comments from the victim’s mother indicating how Uribe-Garza’s conduct was obsessive, manipulative, and toxic. After considering all the evidence, the court determined Uribe-Garza engaged in the obstruction of justice. The judge also heard that Uribe-Garza had previously engaged in another illicit sexual relationship with a 16-year-old minor in 2019, which also resulted in a pregnancy. Uribe-Garza told that girl not to tell anyone of their relationship because he could “catch a case.” The court deemed him a repeat and dangerous sex offender against minors and imposed a sentencing enhancement. Uribe-Garza spoke at sentencing and told the court his only regret was attempting to bring the victim into the United States. Uribe-Garza pleaded guilty June 7, 2021, admitting to the crime and that it had resulted in a pregnancy.

“With ever increasing access to communication platforms, HSI must continue to stay a step ahead of those who exploit technology to target victims. The defendant in this case will serve the next ten years in prison for his actions,” said Special Agent in Charge, Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio. “HSI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue those who victimize the most vulnerable members of our society, our children.”

According to court documents, Uribe-Garza met the minor victim at her 15th birthday party in Reynosa, Mexico, and then began contacting her via social media. From December 2020 to February 2021, Uribe-Garza pursued a sexual relationship with the victim, traveling from Texas to Mexico on multiple occasions. She became pregnant that February. Uribe-Garza attempted to bring the minor into the United States at the Hidalgo Port of Entry on Feb. 24, at which time authorities took him into custody. Uribe-Garza had disguised the victim as a male United States citizen by cutting her hair, dressing her in men’s clothing, and providing her with false documentation.

Uribe-Garza remains in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Devin V. Walker and Amy L. Greenbaum, Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free tip line at 1-866-347-2423, or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. From outside the United States and Canada, callers should dial (802) 872-6199. Hearing impaired users may call TTY (802) 872-6196.

HSI takes a victim-centered approach to child exploitation investigations by working to identify, rescue and stabilize victims. HSI works in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), ICAC partners, and other federal, state, and local agencies to help solve cases and rescue sexually exploited children. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to NCMEC’s toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

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.

One of HSI’s top priorities is to protect the public from crimes of victimization, and HSI’s child exploitation investigations program is a central component of this mission set. Further, HSI is recognized as a global leader in this investigative discipline, and is committed to utilizing its vast authorities, international footprint and strong government and non-government partnerships to identify and rescue child victims, identify, and apprehend offenders, prevent transnational child sexual abuse, and help make the internet a safer place for children.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of over 10,400 employees consists of more than 7,100 special agents assigned to 220 cities throughout the United States, and 80 overseas locations in 53 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’s largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.