Fresno, California - A Reno, Nevada, man was sentenced Monday to eight years and one month in prison for traveling to Fresno to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a 14-year-old girl he originally met on line.
Ismael Martinez, 26, appeared before U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill. According to court documents, in August 2013 the parents of the female victim advised the Fresno County Sheriff's Office they had discovered text messages on a cellphone suggesting their daughter was engaging in sexual relations with someone from out-of-state. The ensuing investigation revealed Martinez had traveled from Reno to Fresno on multiple occasions to engage in sexual relations with the girl. On Dec. 19, 2013, Martinez was indicted and he pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year.
This case was the product of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Fresno County Sheriff's Office and the Central Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian W. Enos prosecuted the case.
"As this case underscores, parents need to talk to their kids about how to stay safe in cyberspace – cautioning them to always think before they click," said Michael J. Toms, the acting assistant special agent in charge who oversees HSI Fresno. "Young people, who would never approach a stranger in person, think nothing of interacting with someone they don't know online. The predators who are lurking on the Internet exploit that trust. Homeland Security Investigations will continue to aggressively target online child predators, but parents, because of their proximity, are the first line of defense."
This case was a product of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative launched in 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, and HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.
Led by the U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.
Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 12,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2014, 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.