Loxahatchee Man Sentenced to 20 Years in Federal Prison for Production of Child Pornography and Related Crimes
U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks sentenced Andrew Melendez-Gonzalez, 22, of Loxahatchee, Florida, to 20 years in federal prison, followed by 25 years of supervised release, for coercing a 15-year-old girl from the Philippines into taking sexually explicit photographs and videos of herself and sending them to his cellular telephone.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office, and Rick Bradshaw, Sheriff, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) made the announcement.
Melendez-Gonzalez pled guilty on December 4, 2019, to producing child pornography, possessing child pornography, transferring obscene material to a minor, and stalking.
According to court records, Melendez-Gonzalez met the 15-year-old victim in an on-line chat room in 2018. He was in Florida. The minor was in the Philippines. After the initial on-line contact, Melendez-Gonzalez communicated with the minor through text messages. He texted the minor an image of his penis and directed her to record sexually explicit photographs and videos of herself and send those to him by text message. The defendant told the minor that if she did not continue texting sexually explicit images to him, he would post the ones he had of her on the internet and send them to the press. Melendez-Gonzalez also texted the minor that he knew where she lived and went to school and that if she did not respond to his messages, he would travel to see her. He also threatened to kill himself if she did not respond.
Law enforcement officers located and arrested Gonzalez after receiving a cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
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 U.S. 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.
U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigation efforts of HSI and PBSO. She also thanked the 15th Judicial Circuit Palm Beach County State Attorney Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory Schiller prosecuted this case.