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July 31, 2019Honolulu, HI, United StatesChild Exploitation

Maui man surrenders on charges of traveling to Thailand to have sex with teen he claimed was his daughter

HONOLULU – A Maui man was taken into federal custody yesterday after being charged in U.S. District Court with engaging in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign place.

George Alexis Theros, 76, was arrested yesterday by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Honolulu and officers with the Maui Police Department. The ongoing investigation is being conducted by HSI in Honolulu and Panama, U.S. Dept. of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) Overseas Criminal Investigations and local law enforcement in Panama and Thailand.

The criminal complaint filed in the case charges Theros with sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl on a boat in Panama. The complaint alleges that witnesses in Panama reported acts of sexual conduct Theros committed on the girl, whom he claimed was his daughter. Witnesses in Thailand reported that years ago, Theros paid the girl’s family in Thailand in order to "adopt" her when she was nine or ten years old, and that the girl proceeded to live with Theros in his home in Thailand.

"The sexual exploitation of children is a heinous offense,” said John F. Tobon, acting Special Agent in Charge for HSI Honolulu. “U.S. citizens traveling abroad need to be cognizant of the fact that U.S. law prohibits this activity, and that HSI – along with our law enforcement partners throughout the world – will continue to work tirelessly to bring perpetrators to justice.”

According to the criminal complaint, in the spring of 2019, Theros traveled with the girl from Thailand to Panama, and planned to transport her to Hawaii on a boat. When witnesses on the boat realized he was sexually abusing the girl, they reported his conduct to law enforcement in Panama. Theros abruptly fled back to Thailand, leaving the girl behind in Panama. He traveled back to Hawaii last week, and was arrested by HSI on July 30.

If convicted of the charge, Theros faces up to thirty years in prison.

"This case demonstrates the federal law enforcement community’s commitment to protecting one of Hawaii’s most precious assets – the boys and girls who hold its future in their hands," said Kenji Price, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii. “Our message as a law enforcement community is simple: If your goal is to sexually exploit children, we’ll do everything in our power as a federal law enforcement community to find a home for you in federal prison.”

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.

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.