TULSA, Okla. — A man illegally residing in the United States was found guilty Wednesday in federal court of attempting to persuade online an 11-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity. Two years earlier, this man had also molested the child while she stayed at a friend’s house.
This investigation was conducted by the following agencies: Tulsa Police Department’s Cyber Crimes and Child Crisis Units, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
A jury convicted Agustin Nieto Regalado, 47, residing in Tulsa, for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor, and for possession of a false U.S. permanent resident card.
In April 2019, the victim’s mother grew suspicious of a Facebook message her daughter received from a man she knew as “Marcos Diaz.” The mother conversed with Diaz, pretending to be her daughter. Diaz acknowledged the child’s age and described sexual acts he wanted to engage in with the victim. He further offered to pay for sex acts, asked for explicit pictures, and described how he had previously molested the child. Marcos Diaz, who was really Agustin Nieto Regalado, also took sexually explicit photos of himself and sent them to “the girl.” The mother reported the encounter to authorities.
“The defendant, an illegal alien in our country, chose to proceed to jury trial, a right afforded him in the United States Constitution. Today, a jury delivered justice in the form of guilty verdicts,” said U.S. Attorney Trent Shores of the Northern District of Oklahoma. “Mr. Regalado came into our country illegally and then enticed, coerced and sexually molested children. Despicable.”
During the trial, Lieutenant Jeremy Noland of the Tulsa Police Department’s Cyber Crimes Unit explained that detectives took over the girl’s Facebook account once the mother reported Regalado. He described how Regalado continued to message the girl, not knowing that he was actually messaging detectives. A meeting location was set by the parties. When Regalado arrived at the location, he was taken into custody by detectives. Regalado possessed a forged U.S. permanent resident card with the alias of Marcos Diaz and immigration documents with the name Agustin Nieto Regalado.
During the trial, testimony was heard that Regalado was also caught several times engaging in suspicious activity with other children.
In closing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Nassar shared with the jury how the victim and her family, who are immigrants, came to the United States in search of opportunities and a better life. He described a country that promises justice for all who come. He asked the jury to deliver justice for the victim and find Regalado guilty of all charges.
U.S. District Judge Claire V. Eagan presided over the trial and set sentencing for Feb. 24. Regalado faces 10 years to life in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for the enticement charge.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher Nassar and Edward Snow, Northern District of Oklahoma, prosecuted this case.
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 19,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child exploitation material, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2018, more than 3,000 (3,191) child predators were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative and more than 850 (859) 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.