July 24, 2008

ICE arrests man who traveled to Mexico for sex with minor

Posted: July 24, 2008 06:22 PM CDT

EL PASO, Texas - U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents on Wednesday arrested a San Elizario man who allegedly engaged in sexual activity with a teen-age girl in Juarez, ICE officials announced Thursday.

A federal grand jury indicted Gustavo Solis-Martinez, 35, on July 16 for traveling out of the country with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, a federal offense.

The act authorizes fines and/or imprisonment of up to 30 years for U.S. citizens or residents who engage in illicit sexual conduct abroad, commonly known as "sex tourism."

Solis-Martinez remains in federal custody at the El Paso County Detention Facility after going before a U.S. federal magistrate judge for an initial appearance Thursday, officials said.

In a separate ICE investigation, a federal judge this past April sentenced John Dickens Armstrong, 51, to more than nine years in prison after he pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual activity with teen-age girls in Ciudad Juarez.

Officials said that ICE special agents obtained an arrest warrant for Armstrong last year after learning that Ciudad Juarez police officers arrested him for engaging in sexual conduct with underage girls.

Sex tourism investigations are part of ICE's Operation Predator, an ongoing initiative targeting those who sexually exploit children.

The public is encouraged to report suspected child predators and suspicious activity by contacting ICE's 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2ICE; and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, at 1-800-843-5678 or http://www.cybertipline.com.

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?