LAWFUEL – US Law News – Law Jobs – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony V. Mangione, Acting Special Agent in Charge, United States Immigration and Customs Service, and Sheriff Ken Mascara, St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, announced today the arrests of defendants, Wesley Evans and his wife, Jennifer Evans, in the Las Vegas area, on charges of using a computer to persuade, induce, entice and coerce a minor to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prohibited sexual activity, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422, and conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. If convicted, both defendants face minimum mandatory sentences of 5 years’ and possible maximum penalties of 30 years’ imprisonment.
These arrests stem from an undercover investigation that commenced on February 2007, when an undercover detective from the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, portraying himself as a 15 year old girl from St. Lucie, Florida, participated in an on-line conversation with an individual using the screen name of “LasVegasPicMan,” and calling himself “Wes.” This individual was later identified through furtehr investigation as defendant Wesley Evans.
In email conversations, Evans stated that he was a thirty-six-year-old male living in Las Vegas and suggested to the undercover agent, whom he believed to be a minor girl, that she should come to Las Vegas. During the course of the investigation, Evans told the undercover that he was going to send her a ticket to travel to Las Vegas and that he was considering sending her a cell phone so he could keep in contact with her. In subsequent conversations, Evans suggested that the undercover runaway from home and fly to Las Vegas to meet him and have sex with him. Evans also coached the undercover on what items she should delete from her computer so no one would know she had contact with someone on the Internet. Lastly, on March 3, 2007, Evans sent the undercover an email, which included a one-way electronic plane ticket for travel from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Las Vegas, Nevada, scheduled for Tuesday, March 13, 2007.
Further investigation identified the screen name and computer used during the chats with the undercover as one owned by defendant Evans in Pahrump, Nevada, a town approximately 50 miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition, a comparison of Wesley Evan’s Nevada driver’s license photograph to a photograph sent by LasVegasPic Man to the undercover further confirmed Evan’s identity.
On March 13, 2007, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and ICE agents arrested Wesley Evans outside the baggage carousel area at the McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, as he waited for the arrival of the undercover. Thereafter, agents executed a search warrant at the home of defendant Wesley Evans. His wife, co-defendant Jennifer Evans, was at the residence at the time of the search.
During the search of the defendants’ home, law enforcement discovered a room set up for the arrival of the undercover, decorated as previously described by Evans in Internet communications with the undercover. The search also resulted in the seizure of two computers, miscellaneous electronic media, miscellaneous documents, approximately one to two (1-2) ounces of marijuana and pornography. At this time, defendant Jennifer Evans admitted knowing about the anticipated arrival of the undercover and of her husband’s intent to have sex with the runaway. Defendant Jennifer Evans was arrested.
U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta stated, “The on-line enticement of children by Internet sexual predators is a clear and present danger to welfare of our children. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to aggressively prosecuting these predators who roam the Internet in search of victims.”
“Those who engage in the sexual exploitation of children should no longer expect the anonymity of cyberspace to protect them,” said Anthony V. Mangione, Acting Special Agent in Charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in Miami. “ICE is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure that sexual predators feel the full weight of the law.”
“One of my highest priorities as Sheriff of St. Lucie County is to investigate those who want to use the Internet to lure unsuspecting youngsters into sexual encounters,” said Sheriff Ken J. Mascara. “That’s why we vigorously pursued this case once the defendant made contact with our undercover detective.”
Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Pierce Resident ICE Office and the cooperation and assistance of the Las Vegas ICE and United States Attorneys Office as well as law enforcement from Las Vegas Metropolitan and Nye County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Beth Sreenan.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.