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Child Exploitation

West Texas man sentenced to 11 years in federal prison for enticing a minor

MIDLAND, Texas — A Mexican citizen living in the United States was sentenced Monday to 11 years in federal prison for using a communication device to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity.

Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case, with the assistance of Crane County Sheriff's Office.

Juan Carlos Venegas, 21, a U.S. permanent resident who lived in Crane, Texas, was also sentenced to 20 years of supervised release. ICE has placed an immigration detainer on Venegas. After he completes his sentence, Venegas will be turned over to ICE custody and placed in removal proceedings.

On Sept. 5, a federal jury convicted Venegas of knowingly using his cell phone on several occasions in June 2012 to entice a minor to have sex with him. Venegas fled to Mexico shortly after being arrested by Crane County Sheriff's deputies in July 2012.

On Feb. 16, 2013, about eight months after his initial arrest, Venegas was arrested in Del Rio, Texas, while attempting to enter the United States from Mexico.

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 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including producing and distributing online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.

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. 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 and current chair 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.