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Texas man charged with soliciting sexual images of a minor via WhatsApp

January 14, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

A 61-year-old McAllen, Texas, resident has been arrested for coercion and enticement of a minor, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.

Fabian Vela is expected to make his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Nadia S. Medrano at 9 a.m. Authorities took him into custody yesterday as he re-entered the United States at a Port of Entry in Hidalgo County.

The criminal complaint charges Vela with coercion and enticement of a minor from on or about Sept. 29 – Oct. 5, 2022.

Vela allegedly coerced and enticed a minor victim through the use of the WhatsApp messaging application and a cellular telephone. He persuaded the victim to send multiple nude and sexually explicit images in exchange for payment, according to the charges.

If convicted, Vela faces up to life in prison.

Homeland Security Investigations – Rio Grande Valley Child Exploitation Investigations Task force conducted the investigation with assistance from the U.S. Secret Service and the San Juan Police Department.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Mitchell and Devin Walker are prosecuting the case which is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ's PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources link on that page.

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