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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 24, 2014

Oldsmar Man Sentenced To 17 Years In Prison For Attempted Transportation Of A Minor For Sexual Activity

Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday today sentenced Carlos Santiago Garcia (22, Oldsmar) to 17 years and 6 months in federal prison for attempting to transport a minor in interstate commerce to engage in sexual activity for the purpose of producing child pornography. Garcia was arrested in December 2013 and he pleaded guilty in August 2014.

According to court documents, Garcia posed as a minor female on Facebook to befriend a minor female victim. He then used a second fictitious online identity to convince the victim that he was a “friend” of his fabricated female identity, and could provide the victim with transportation she needed to get to a modeling job. In reality, Garcia was planning to transport the minor victim to Georgia to have sex and produce explicit images and videos of her. Garcia was arrested by members of the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force as he arrived at the victim’s residence. At the time of his arrest, law enforcement officers found marijuana, vodka, a written itinerary for the trip, as well as other items indicative of “grooming” for sex acts, inside Garcia’s vehicle. Further investigation revealed that Garcia’s e-mail accounts contained hundreds of images of child pornography, and evidence that he had been using the Internet to engage in schemes known as “catfishing” and “sextortion.”

This case was investigated by the Clearwater Area Human Trafficking Task Force, which is comprised of multiple law enforcement agency partners, including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Clearwater Police Department, and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Josephine W. Thomas.  

“This sentencing is the result of strong collaboration with local law enforcement through the Clearwater-Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force,” said Susan L. McCormick, special agent in charge of HSI Tampa. “This case provides an excellent example of working together to make our communities safer for our children.”

“This case started from an alert father seeing suspicious activity and is a good lesson for all to monitor the online activities involving their children,” said Clearwater Police Chief Dan Slaughter. “All members of the Clearwater/Tampa Bay Area Task Force on Human Trafficking are glad to see justice served.”

It 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 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 locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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Updated January 26, 2015