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February 10, 2021McAllen, TX, United StatesChild Exploitation

South Texas man sentenced to more than 11 years for enticing minor on social media

MCALLEN, Texas — A Mercedes, Texas, man was sentenced to 140 months in prison for engaging in sexual activity with a young girl via social media, following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Special agents assigned to HSI’s Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Task Force (RGV CEITF) investigated the case with the assistance of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol.

On Feb. 10, Jason Hernandez, 34, was also ordered to serve 10 years on supervised release following completion of his prison term, during which time he will have to comply with numerous requirements designed to restrict his access to children. And, he will have to register as a sex offender.

U.S. District Judge Micaela Alvarez, who handed down the sentence, noted that unlike many other crimes, Hernandez was not motivated by the desire to make money, instead by his own immoral purposes and desires. The judge further noted Hernandez clearly intended to engage in sexual activity with a minor as he had arrived at the meeting location with condoms in his possession. Hernandez pleaded guilty Dec. 2, 2020.

“With ever increasing access to communication platforms, we must continue to stay a step ahead of those who exploit technology to facilitate some of the worst crimes in modern society. The defendant in this case will serve the next several years in prison for his unfathomable acts,” said Craig Larrabee, acting special agent in charge of HSI San Antonio. “HSI will continue to dedicate law enforcement resources to identify and bring to justice child predators who traumatize and victimize children.”

According to court documents, between Aug. 2020 and Sept. 2020, Hernandez enticed an individual he believed to be a 13-year-old female on a social media application. In their communications, Hernandez had graphically described sexual acts he desired to perform with the minor and expressed his desire to impregnate her.

Hernandez then requested to meet the alleged minor in person at an agreed upon location at a park in Harlingen, Texas, at which time he expected to engage in sexual activity with her. However, law enforcement took him into custody upon his arrival.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Mitchell, Southern District of Texas, prosecuted the case.

The HSI RGV CEITF combines personnel from HSI Brownsville, HSI Harlingen, HSI McAllen, the U.S. Marshals Service, CBP Southern Operations Command-Evidence Collection Team, the Brownsville Police Department, the Harlingen Police Department, the Cameron County Sheriff’s Office, the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, the Brownsville Independent School District Police Department, the Raymondville Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the Cameron County District’s Attorney’s Office, the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brownsville and McAllen, Southern District of Texas.

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.

HSI is a directorate of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 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.

For more information about HSI’s efforts to protect children from online sexual abuse, visit https://www.ice.gov/topics/iGuardians.

Updated: 02/24/2021