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Press Release

Former U.S. Navy Airman Apprentice Sentenced To More Than 19 Years For Attempting To Entice A 13-Year-Old And 15-Year-Old For Sex

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida

Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard has sentenced Erold Martin Panopio (25, Jacksonville) to 19 years and 7 months in federal prison for attempted enticement of two minors to engage in sexual conduct. Panopio had pleaded guilty on April 24, 2019.

According to court documents, in October 2018, law enforcement learned of online communications of a sexual nature between Panopio and a 15-year-old girl. A forensic analysis of the girl’s phone revealed that Panopio had filmed himself engaging in sexual acts with two 15-year-old girls earlier that month. A Homeland Security Investigations agent assumed the identity of one of the girls and began communicating with Panopio. Panopio told the undercover agent, posing as the child, all of the sexual acts that he wanted to engage in with the child and a “friend” of the child who was 13 years old. Panopio traveled from his home in Jacksonville to Clay County, where he intended to meet the 15-year-old and 13-year-old girls for sex, and was subsequently arrested. During an interview with law enforcement, Panopio admitted that he had traveled for the purpose of meeting the children to have sex with them. He also acknowledged having sex with the 15-year-old on a prior occasion.

A search of Panopio’s phone revealed chats from July and August 2018 with another 15-year-old girl with whom he had previously engaged in sexual conduct. In those chats, Panopio repeatedly demanded nude photographs, threatened to appear at the child’s house, and threatened to tell the child’s parents if the child would not have sex with him again or send nude photographs of herself.

“This predator used social media applications to groom minor girls and magnify their abuse,” said HSI Tampa Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero. “But now, thanks to our HSI special agents and law enforcement partners at the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, he will be held accountable for his crimes.”

This case was investigated by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations. It is was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly S. Karase.

This is another case brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the 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 federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

Updated October 29, 2019

Project Safe Childhood