Moore County, Texas, Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Obscenity Offense
AMARILLO, Texas — Bassam Arif Al Zarkani, 33, of Dumas, Texas, appeared today before U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson and pleaded guilty to one count of attempted transfer of obscene material to a minor, announced John Parker, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Al Zarkani, who has been in custody since his arrest on a related state charge in April 2015, faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. A sentencing date was not set.
According to documents filed in the case, on approximately April 14, 2015, Al Zarkani sent a “friend request” to an undercover officer’s Facebook account, and the undercover officer accepted that friend request. Al Zarkani and the undercover officer exchanged messages and in response to Al Zarkani’s inquiry, the undercover officer responded, “single…no kids thank god…im 15.”
The conversation turned sexual in nature and Al Zarkani sent the undercover officer a sexually explicit photo of himself, and for almost two weeks, Al Zarkani and the undercover officer, whom Al Zarkani believed was a 15-year-old female, sent private messages to each other through Facebook. During the conversations, Al Zarkani warned the undercover officer to keep him a secret from her dad and not tell anyone about him until she is 18 years old. On April 28, 2015, a meeting site was established, and Al Zarkani traveled from Dumas to Amarillo, Texas, to meet the girl. He was arrested when he arrived at the meeting location
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Amarillo Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joshua Frausto is in charge of the prosecution.
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