Maryland Trucker Indicted for Transporting An 11 Year Old Girl to Have Sex
Girl Was Found in Tennessee Hours After an AMBER Alert Was Issued
Greenbelt, Maryland - A federal grand jury yesterday indicted Elmer Zelaya-Robles, age 41, of Grand Prairie, Texas, who worked for a Maryland trucking company and at times resided with a relative in Virginia, on charges of transporting an 11 year old girl from Maryland to engage in sex.
The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Chief Roberto L. Hylton of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
“Nationwide law enforcement coordination, modern technology and a shared commitment to pursue criminals who prey on children contributed to the quick arrest of Mr. Zelaya and the recovery of the child,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Local, state and federal law enforcement quickly coordinated their efforts and within hours after issuing an AMBER alert, the missing girl was found in Tennessee. This case demonstrates both the terrible danger that sexual predators pose to children and the heroic ability of law enforcement to make a difference.”
According to the indictment and affidavit in support of an arrest warrant, the parents of an 11 year old girl living in Prince George’s County, Maryland reported their daughter missing at 2:30 p.m. on February 13, 2010. An AMBER alert was issued for an orange tractor trailer in which the child was thought to be traveling.
Around 10:00 p.m. that same day, a Tennessee highway trooper spotted the tractor trailer. The trooper stopped the vehicle after it turned into the Love’s Truck Stop in Jackson, Tennessee and identified the driver as Zelaya. Zelaya was handcuffed and the missing girl was found in the sleeper area of the truck. The indictment alleges that Zelaya was transporting the girl with the intent to rape her, in violation of Maryland law.
Zelaya faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Zelaya is detained pending trial.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
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. Details about Maryland’s program are available at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/md/Safe-Childhood/index.html.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Tennessee Highway Patrol for their assistance in the investigation and commended Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf, who is prosecuting the case.