Monday, July 1, 2013

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Cyber Crimes Unit, FBI, Round Rock Law Enforcement Officers Arrest Eight Suspected Child Predators in Williamson, Travis Counties

ROUND ROCK – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Cyber Crimes Unit officers, in collaboration with the FBI and the Round Rock Police Department, conducted an undercover investigation in Williamson and northern Travis counties during the month of June and arrested eight suspected online sex predators.

All eight suspects were charged with online solicitation of a minor, a felony punishable by at least two years in prison. According to investigators, three individuals were arrested for placing or responding to online advertisements seeking sexual encounters with children. Five other suspects were arrested for initiating online chats on social networking sites to sexually proposition children.

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Emmanuel Gonzalez

July 1, 2013, arrest of Emmanuel Gonzalez

Noel Torres

July 1, 2013, arrest of Noel Torres

Edwin Paxtor

July 1, 2013, arrest of Edwin Paxtor

Richard Frias

Brian Stewart

William Mower

Omar Mendo

Randy Salazar

Attorney General Abbott issued the following statement about the Cyber Crimes Unit’s successful undercover operations:

“The Cyber Crimes Unit teamed with the Round Rock Police Department and the FBI in June to arrest eight suspected sexual predators who used online advertisements or social networking websites to seek sexual encounters with children. Parents and law enforcement authorities must work cooperatively to educate children and teenagers about the potentially dangerous criminals hiding behind seemingly benign online profiles or online advertisements.”

Attorney General Abbott added: “We are grateful to the local, state and federal law enforcement officials from Central Texas who helped make these arrests possible and continue to work with the Cyber Crimes Unit to protect Texas families.”

Online advertisement website arrests

During the undercover operation, Cyber Crimes Unit officers identified and arrested three suspected online predators who used online advertisements to seek sexual encounters with children. On June 12, for example, cyber officers arrested Emmanuel Alejandro Gonzalez, 27, in Round Rock for online solicitation of a minor, a third-degree felony. According to state investigators, Gonzalez initiated and conducted sexually graphic online chats with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Cyber Crimes Unit officers identified and arrested Gonzalez, transporting him to the Round Rock Police Department.

In addition to Gonzalez, law enforcement officers arrested the following suspects who used online advertising and social networking websites to seek sexual encounters with children:
• Richard Frias, 48, arrested June 26 in Leander
• Brian James Stewart, 36, arrested June 21 in Round Rock

Social networking website arrests

Cyber Crimes Unit officers also identified and arrested five suspects who initiated online chats on social networking sites to sexually proposition children, including Noel Santos Torres, a 31-year-old restaurant chain manager. According to investigators, Torres initiated online chats and exchanged sexually graphic text messages with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl. The “girl” was actually an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit officer. Torres sexually propositioned the girl and arranged to meet her on June 12 at a location in Round Rock. Cyber Crimes Unit officers identified and arrested Torres when he arrived at the meeting.

On June 18, Cyber Crimes Unit officers arrested Edwin E. Paxtor, 29, of Austin. Paxtor is charged with online solicitation of a minor for sexually propositioning someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. According to investigators, Paxtor conducted graphic sexual chats and text messages with the “girl,” who was actually an undercover Cyber Crimes Unit officer. Paxtor arranged to meet the girl at a location in Round Rock. When Paxtor arrived at the meeting, Cyber Crimes Unit and Round Rock police officers observed him park his vehicle and then wait in his vehicle for several minutes before leaving the location and traveling to Pflugerville. The law enforcement team followed the vehicle until Paxtor parked at a convenience store, where the officers took him into custody.

With assistance from Round Rock police officers, Cyber Crimes Unit officers also arrested the following three suspects for using social networking sites to prey upon children:
• William Albert Mower, 47, arrested June 10 in Round Rock
• Omar Mendo, 33, arrested June 10 in Round Rock
• Randy Salazar, 41, arrested June 7 in Leander

The Texas Attorney General’s Office works closely with federal, state and local officials across Texas to investigate and prosecute child sexual predators. In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice designated the Attorney General’s Office as ICAC Task Force for the South Texas Region, which includes 134 counties. As the home of a federally-funded ICAC Task Force, the Attorney General’s Office receives grant funding from the Justice Department for both peace officers and prosecutors. Child predators arrested by the Attorney General’s Office have been prosecuted in both state and federal courts.

To find out more about Attorney General Abbott’s ongoing efforts to crack down on sexual predators, visit the attorney general’s website at www.texasattorneygeneral.gov or call (800) 252-8011.