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Press Release

Ohio Seminary Student Pleads Guilty, Admits Seeking Sex with Infants in Tijuana

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California

Assistant U. S. Attorney Alessandra Serano (619) 546-8104


SAN DIEGO – Joel Alexander Wright, a former seminary student from Ohio, pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he attempted to adopt or purchase female infants and toddlers in Tijuana in order to sexually molest them.

In his plea agreement, Wright admitted that he was the author of numerous sexually explicit emails in which he describes to a cooperating witness and an undercover federal agent how he intended to sexually assault various children in Mexico, from infants up to 4 years old.

Wright admitted the following in his plea agreement:

Beginning in November of 2015, he placed ads on Craigslist Tijuana purporting to seek a female tour guide. When he received a response from a cooperating witness, he confided that he wanted to “adopt/own a baby girl (under the age of 3) and I want to have intercourse with her after I own her but don’t be telling people that…I won’t pay until I have seen the baby and I will pay the parents then…the cheapest baby under 3 would be good.”

In another email with an undercover federal agent, Wright admitted that he wrote he had “picked up an infant pain relief med and a pretty outfit which I think should fit the 1 or 2 year old.” He emailed that he “will try to find some lube here at the store that we can use.” He also wrote that he had purchased an American Airlines ticket to travel from Ohio to San Diego on January 29, 2016, arriving at 11:30 a.m.

On January 29, Wright deplaned at San Diego International Airport and called a number to the undercover agent stating that he had landed. Wright had two cell phones and a duffle bag. Inside the bag agents found baby clothes, sleep aids, bottles, toys, candy and lubricant.

Wright was arrested at the airport and has remained in custody since. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 1, 2016 at 9 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw.

“There are no words to describe the horror that might have happened, had this man carried out what he intended to do - sexually exploit and assault innocent toddlers and infants,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy. “There is nothing more important on my agenda than keeping children safe from individuals who have a sexual interest in children both here in the United States and abroad from individuals who travel from the U.S. with that nefarious intent.”

“I commend our cybercrimes special agents whose tireless work during an exhaustive investigation has prevented further exploitation of innocent children by a significantly heinous, unspeakable form of child sexual predator activity,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “HSI is committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners both here and abroad to protect children from becoming victims of child sex predators.”

DEFENDANT                                  Case Number: 16CR0354-DMS

Joel Alexander Wright                        Age: 23          


Attempted Enticement of a Minor, in violation of Title 18, U.S. code Sec. 2422(b).

Maximum Penalty: Life in prison, with minimum mandatory 10-year sentence, maximum $250,000 fine, lifetime registration as a sex offender


Updated April 13, 2016

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: CAS16-0413-Wright