By Guillermo Duralde,
Domestic News Assistant Editor
In a world where we already live with the knowledge that there are some very disturbed individuals who perpetrate some truly disturbing acts, last week was yet another example of a new level of human depravity.
According to a report from KTLA, federal agents for the Homeland Security Investigations division of the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement arrested former Ohio seminary student, 23-year-old Joel A. Wright, on two felony charges of “crossing state lines with the intention to engage in a sexual act with a minor, and attempting to travel ‘in interstate and foreign commerce’ for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual conduct with another person.”
The investigation began months ago when agents discovered that Wright had reached out to an individual in Tijuana, Mexico to adopt a child for the sole purpose of engaging in sexual acts. According to reports, Wright showed up in Tijuana to pay the adoption fee, but the people to whom he paid the fee never showed up with a child.
Undeterred, Wright reached out over Craigslist for a Mexican tour guide that would help him find a child. That person turned out to be the same individual who defrauded Mr. Wright the first time. This same individual later became instrumental in the investigation.
During the second email correspondence, Mr. Wright initially stated that his intention was to go to Mexico to find a wife and to adopt a child, eventually revealing his intention was to use the child for sexual assault. Once Mr. Wright admitted this, the individual contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which then took over the correspondence with Mr. Wright.
As quoted by Fox News, the agents for Homeland Security continued the email correspondence with Mr. Wright and he eventually stated his purpose for seeking to adopt the child saying, “I have not gone all the way before, but I have made it very close in the past so I do have (experience).”
After the third email exchange, Mr. Wright made travel arrangements to San Diego with the intent to go into Mexico and adopt the child. He was arrested in the terminal of the San Diego International Airport.
Mr. Wright was found in conjunction with ICE’s Operation Predator, which began in 2003 as what KTLA refers to as “an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.”
Since its inception, Operation Predator has resulted in the arrests of over 12,000 individuals on charges ranging from the production and distribution of child pornography, sex trafficking with children, and traveling overseas for sex with minors.
This is a global issue that ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, and other investigative agencies around the world are cracking down on in order to make sure our children are protected and have the chance to live a happy, normal life.
Mr. Wright made his first appearance in court on Monday where he decided not to enter into a plea deal and where federal prosecutors filed a motion that would keep Mr. Wright in custody.
Deeming him to be a flight risk and a danger to the community, Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal set the preliminary trial date for Feb. 11.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 9th print edition.
Contact Guillermo at