Service Member At U.S. Naval Air Station In Lemoore Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison For Sex Trafficking Of A Minor
FRESNO, Calif. — Charles Ray Benavidez, 33, an Aviation Ordnanceman (Second Class) stationed at the United States’ Naval Air Station in Lemoore, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii to 10 years for sex trafficking of a minor, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to court documents, in April 2013, Benavidez knowingly recruited a 17-year-old female to engage in commercial sex acts in Kings and Tulare Counties. Benavidez was charged with sex trafficking of a minor and has been in federal custody since May 23, 2013. He pleaded guilty to the child sex trafficking charge on January 6, 2014.
“For most people, criminal acts against children are impossible to comprehend, but for the children who have been sexually exploited, these crimes are all too real,” said Mike Prado, resident agent in charge of HSI Fresno. “The physical and emotional scars are difficult, if not impossible, to outgrow. HSI will continue to work tirelessly to ensure child predators and sex traffickers receive the justice they deserve.”
This case was the product of an investigation by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task force, specifically the Fresno U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), as well as the Porterville, Tulare and Lemoore police departments. Assistant United States Attorney Brian W. Enos prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. Click on the “resources” tab for information about Internet Safety.