Ohio seminary student Joel Wright was arrested at San Diego’s Lindbergh Field on Friday on suspicion that he was traveling to Mexico to have sex with multiple infants.
Special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) apprehended the 23-year-old student. Wright stands charged with two felony counts: traveling with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country.
“This investigation opens a window into a secret world where sexual predators prey on young children around the globe,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego.
A tip led an undercover Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agent to communicate with Wright. Wright placed an online ad that initiated communication with a Mexico-based tour guide. The HSI agent took over the email account and communications with Wright who did not know the change had taken place according to ICE. Wright allegedly expressed a desire to go to Tijuana, adopt or own a child two years old or less and force intercourse.
With the intention to carry through on his depraved desires, Wright booked a flight to San Diego. What’s more, he arranged to meet up with a tour guide’s friend at the airport. Instead he was arrested upon landing at the San Diego airport.
Investigators say Wright thought he and the tour guide were going to meet and travel to a Tijuana hotel and see the female infants according to ICE.
“Pedophiles who mistakenly believe they can escape justice by committing child sex crimes outside the U.S. should be on notice that HSI will seek to vindicate the rights of those victims regardless where they live. Fortunately, in this instance, our perseverance and diligence prevented the sexual exploitation of yet another innocent victim,” Shaw went on to state.
Wright is scheduled for arraignment on Monday.
The investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator. The international initiative was launched in 2003. Anyone with tips on suspected child predators can call the Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form.
Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana