MCALLEN, Texas — A south Texas man pleaded guilty Monday to enticing a minor announced U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson, Southern District of Texas. The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with the assistance of the Pharr Police Department.
Teofanes Salas-Campos, 40, of Mission, Texas, entered his plea on Sept. 17 before U.S. District Court Judge Randy Crane.
According to court documents, in April a Pharr Police Department investigator contacted HSI special agents concerning the solicitation of a minor for sexual purposes. Special agents recovered a cell phone that was being used by a 14-year-old minor to receive messages from adult males requesting sexual encounters in exchange for money. Posing as the minor, special agents began conversing with the unknown males via cell phone text messages.
During this investigation three men were arrested and subsequently charged with the federal offense of enticing a minor; all have now been convicted. The following two Mexican nationals have also pleaded guilty: Felipe de Jesus Ponce-Torres, 24, and Jose Luis Garica-Saldivar.
During the re-arraignment on these cases, each of these defendants admitted to intending to have sex with an individual whom they believed was a minor, and that they were going to pay the minor between $80 and $100.
Salas-Campos will be sentenced Nov. 26, while Ponce-Torres and Garica-Saldivar will be sentenced Nov. 21 and Dec. 10, respectively.
They all face a minimum of 10 years and up to life in prison as well as a maximum $250,000 fine. They will each also be required to register as a sex offender.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Ann Leo and Juan Villescas, Southern District of Texas prosecuted the case.
This investigation is part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybetipline.com.