Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Local man arrested for alleged sex tourism


A Santa Barbara man appeared in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday for allegedly seeking out a guide to help him locate children to have sex with in Thailand, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said yesterday.
The man, Michael Patrick Mahoney, 51, a sales representative of some sort, was arrested Saturday night at Los Angeles International Airport as he attempted to board a flight destined for Bangkok, Thailand. At the time of the arrest, authorities said Mahoney was in possession of children’s stuffed animals, Disneyland shirts, chocolates and about $800 in U.S. and Thai currency.

Mahoney has been charged with one count of traveling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct in foreign places, a violation that carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, according to a statement from ICE.
The statement said the investigation into Mahoney began last week after ICE agents spotted a posting on, in which Mahoney allegedly sought out a “guide” to help him find children to have sex with.
An undercover ICE agent posing as a travel guide e-mailed Mahoney and offered to make the arrangements, the statement from ICE said.
“In subsequent e-mails and phone conversations with the undercover agent, Mahoney expressed interest in engaging in sexual activities with 12 and 13-year-old Thai boys and girls,” the statement says.
Mahoney is being charged under the provisions of the PROTECT Act, which the statement from ICE said was signed into law by President Bush five years ago. According to the ICE statement, the act strengthened federal laws against predatory crimes involving children outside the United States by adding new crimes, increasing sentences and modifying the burden of proof requirements for federal prosecutors to bring charges.
The ICE statement said Mahoney’s arrest is part of Operation Predator, an ongoing ICE initiative launched five years ago to target people who pretty upon and sexually exploit children. Since the initiative began, ICE agents have arrested more than 11,000 people nationwide, the statement from ICE said.
“This case is yet another disturbing reminder that those who have a sexual interest in children believe they can evade detection and prosecution by committing sex crimes overseas,” said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge for the ICE office of investigations in Los Angeles. “Fortunately for the world’s young people, foreign authorities and U.S. law enforcement are allied in their resolve to combat this problem and bring perpetrators to justice.”
Mahoney’s bond was set at $100,000. The statement did not say if he posted bond.

No comments: