A former seminary student was sentenced to nearly 16 years in prison in a federal court after he placed an ad on Craigslist to buy a Mexican toddler for sex. The man was lured to San Diego in a federal sting operation.
Joel Alexander Wright, 23, a former student at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty in April 2016 after admitting he attempted to adopt or purchase female infants and toddlers in Tijuana, Mexico, in order to sexually molest them, according to information obtained by Breitbart Texas. Wright placed multiple ads on Craigslist Tijuana seeking a female tour guide to help him buy or adopt infants and toddlers up to 4-years-old.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana M. Sabraw sentenced Wright to 188 months in a federal prison on July 1. During the sentencing hearing, the judge said that Wright had held himself out as someone who was kind and thoughtful when all the while he was plotting a heinous crime, according to information obtained from HSI by Breitbart Texas.
The investigation began when Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline. The tip informed the investigators of the Craigslist Tijuana ads. A confidential informant responded to Wright and began exchanging emails to plan his visit to San Diego. The informant carried on a nearly year and a half-long electronic conversation with Wright and eventually offered to obtain a child for him to adopt, according to the criminal complaint obtained by Breitbart Texas (attached below).
Wright then traveled to Tijuana to meet with the informant. He paid an “adoption fee” at a Tijuana area hotel. He told Wright he would return with the child, but never did. The informant found another Craigslist post from Wright and began communicating with him again. During the email conversations, Wright said he wished to engage in “illicit sexual conduct with female infants.” He told the informant, “I have not gone all the way before but I have made it very close in the past so I do have experience,” the criminal complaint revealed.
In a detailed email message with the informant, Wright wrote, “I think one fun thing we could do at the same time with the infant is you could be in her mouth with your thing and I could be penetrating her so she would be getting it from both ways.” He was referring to having sex with a 4-year-old at that time. The sexually explicit message continued with other perverted plans for the toddler.
In December 2015, Wright purchased an airline ticket to fly to San Diego to meet with the informant. Wright said he expected to have sex with a 1 and 4-year-old. He later backed out of this deal.
In December 2015, Wright placed yet another ad on Craigslist Tijuana, the complaint stated. The informant contacted Wright using a different email address and identity. The informant received another email from Wright. This time Wright wrote the informant stating, “I want to adopt/own a baby girl (under the age of 3) and I want to have intercourse with her after I own her but don’t be telling people that – I can come next Thursday but I won’t pay until I have seen the baby and I will pay the parents then. … the cheapest baby girl under 3 would be good… and call me by the name Francis…” He sent a follow up message asking the informant to get three babies for him “to play with and penetrate.” He asked the informant if she would stay in the hotel for a little while and watch and video while he was “playing with them.”
After many more explicit conversations, Wright eventually flew to San Diego to meet with the informant. He called the informant on January 29 and told her he had arrived and was ready to be picked up at baggage claim. He was met outside the baggage claim area by law enforcement officials.
“There are no words to describe the horror that might have happened, had this man carried out what he intended to do – sexually exploit and assault innocent toddlers and infants,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a written statement following the conviction in April. “There is nothing more important on my agenda than keeping children safe from individuals who have a sexual interest in children both here in the United States and abroad from individuals who travel from the U.S. with that nefarious intent.”
Following the sentencing, Duffy said, “This defendant represents the darkest of demons His attempted crime was unthinkable. I applaud our law enforcement partners for stopping Wright in his tracks, and for all their efforts to keep children safe from individuals who have a sexual interest in children, both here in the United States and abroad.”