The Port Arthur News
A 39-year-old Edinburg, Tx, man has pleaded guilty to federal charges in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.
Hector Capetillo Rodriguez pleaded guilty to coercion or enticement of a child today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith F. Giblin.
According to information presented in court, on May 30, 2012, Rodriguez approached a child inside a Port Arthur Wal-Mart and requested assistance in locating a particular toy. During the conversation, Rodriguez asked for the child’s cellular phone number, which the child gave him. Later that evening, Rodriguez began sending the child text messages thanking the child for assisting him. An adult family member saw the text messages and contacted police, who assumed the child’s identity and continued the text conversation with Rodriguez. The defendant’s text messages became sexual and a meeting was arranged between Rodriguez and the police posing as the child. Rodriguez arrived at Port Neches Park for what he believed to be a sexual encounter with the child and was arrested by police.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Rodriguez faces a minimum of 10 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not been set.
This case is being investigated by HSI/ICE, the Port Arthur Police Department and the Port Neches Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher T. Tortorice.