South Florida Police Officer Charged in Federal Court with Attempting to Sexually Exploit Child
Miami, Florida – On Friday, 30-year-old Stuart, Florida resident Juan Antonio Garcia appeared in United States magistrate court in Ft. Pierce to face a federal charge that he attempted to produce pornography of a 15-year-old boy. Garcia is a law enforcement officer with the Sewall’s Point Police Department.
According to the recently unsealed criminal complaint affidavit, law enforcement officers received a report on November 22, that Garcia was sending sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old boy. According to the affidavit, in text messages, Garcia asked the minor to accompany Garcia to a nude beach in Saint Lucie County. It is alleged that Garcia instructed the minor via text message to put on a condom (which Garcia provided to the minor), masturbate, and send Garcia a photograph of the condom after the minor ejaculated. It is also alleged that Garcia sent text messages to the minor’s phone instructing him to send Garcia a video of the boy masturbating and asking the boy whether he would consider performing oral sex on Garcia. On November 23, Garcia texted the minor’s phone, asking the minor to meet Garcia at a local park for oral sex, according to the allegations. When Garcia arrived at the park, law enforcement officers apprehended him.
Garcia’s detention hearing is set for December 10, and his arraignment is set for December 17. Both proceedings will take place in federal magistrate court in West Palm Beach, Florida. If convicted, Garcia faces between 15 years and 30 years in federal prison.
Sewall’s Point Police Department has placed Garcia on administrative leave without pay, pending investigation.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Anthony Salisbury, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Miami Field Office made the announcement.
HSI Miami (Ft. Pierce Office) and Martin County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Bergstrom is prosecuting the case.
Criminal complaints contain mere allegations and defendants are innocent unless and until found guilty in a court of law.
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 the U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Criminal Divisions 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.
Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case no. 21-mj-00078-SMM.
Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney
Public Affairs Officer