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December 18, 2017New York, NY, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

ICE New York trafficking investigation results in criminal conviction, victim rescued

NEW YORK — A Queens man was convicted Friday for enticing a 16-year-old girl to travel from abroad to engage in sexual activity.  The initial arrest stemmed from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in New York led investigation, with assistance from the Australian Federal Police and the New York City Police Department (NYPD), which led to the recovery of the missing girl.

Sean Price, 39, met the Australian teen online and encouraged her to join him in New York.  The superseding indictment charged him with interstate and foreign enticement to engage in sexual activity, interstate and foreign transportation of a minor to engage in sexual activity, a Mann Act violation, and attempted sexual exploitation of a child.

“Price lured a teenage girl across the globe to satisfy his own sordid desires, taking advantage of her youth and preying on her vulnerability,” stated HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Melendez. “These cases are a harsh reminder of the importance of educating our young people on the dangers of sexual predators on the internet. HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit maintains an unwavering commitment to investigate these crimes around the world, targeting and arresting predators who transport minors for sex. And we continue to collaborate with our global partners, like the Australian Federal Police, while relying on local partnerships as with the NYPD.”

“The jury has held defendant Sean Price accountable for his predatory conduct, which included luring a teenage girl from her home in Australia across the world to the United States so that he could engage in an illicit sexual relationship with her,” stated Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Bridget M. Rohde. “Today’s verdict should send a strong message that this Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will work tirelessly to identify those who would sexually exploit minors and prosecute those abusers to the fullest extent of the law.”

The evidence at trial established that in the fall of 2016, Price established an online relationship with a 16-year-old girl who lived in Australia. By January 2017, they were communicating with each other daily through messages on Facebook, with much of the discussion concerning Price’s desire to engage in sex with the girl, and how she could travel from Australia to join Price in New York City without law enforcement or her parents finding out. The Facebook chat messages demonstrated that Price, who was 39 years old at the time, openly discussed the girl’s age with her, and Price told her repeatedly that he wanted to be sexually intimate with her.

Price and the girl also discussed obtaining a fake passport so the girl could travel internationally, and Price offered to impersonate her father to help her get through airport security in the United States.  In chat messages, Price told the girl that they would soon be laughing at her parents and when she told Price that she did not need parental permission to fly internationally, Price responded: “So you coming to papa?” After months of planning, Price wired the girl over $900 to purchase a plane ticket to fly to Los Angeles in late March of this year. Shortly afterwards, on April 11, 2017, the girl flew on a roundtrip ticket from Sydney, Australia to Los Angeles, California, where Price was waiting for her arrival. Price hired a rental car, and he drove across the country to Price’s home in Jamaica, Queens.

Price admitted in a post-arrest statement that he and Jane Doe were involved sexually during their cross-country trip, and while they were living in Queens until she was found by law enforcement in his home four weeks later. Following her successful recovery by officers of the NYPD, Jane Doe was returned to her family in Australia.

When sentenced, Price faces up to life in prison.

The HSI New York’s Trafficking in Persons Unit (TIPU) is comprised of senior criminal investigators, intelligence officers and victim assistance specialists who aid in the rescue of trafficking victims and prosecution of traffickers and trafficking organizations. TIPU investigators focus on the exploitation of victims by force, fraud or coercion regardless of the person’s manor or entry into the United States. All TIPU investigations are victim-centered, seeking to rescue and protect the victims of trafficking.