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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Indiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 29, 2022

New Jersey Man Federally Charged with Enticement of a Minor and Interstate Transportation of a Minor to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activit

INDIANAPOLIS – Arnold Castillo, 22, of Paterson, New Jersey, has been arrested on charges of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and coercion and enticement of a minor.

According to court documents, beginning sometime in February 2022, Castillo used a social media application to communicate with a minor child from central Indiana with the goal of luring her to New Jersey for illicit sexual purposes. Over several months, Castillo showered praise upon the minor, sent her gifts through an online retailer, and paid her money. These tactics, also known as “grooming,” are used by sex offenders to gain a minor’s trust and alienate them from family and other support systems.

On or about May 3, 2022, Castillo coerced and enticed the minor to travel from Indiana to New Jersey for illicit purposes. Castillo paid and arranged for an Uber driver to pick up the minor and transport her across state lines to him.

Using data from the social media application and the online retailer, investigators traced the minor to an address in Patterson, New Jersey. On May 11, 2022, investigators recovered the minor from Castillo’s residence and later reunited her with her mother. New Jersey authorities arrested Castillo on state charges, and he was charged under seal in federal court in Indianapolis the following morning.

On May 12, 2022, Castillo appeared before a federal Magistrate Judge in the District of New Jersey and was detained and ordered removed to the Southern District of Indiana to face charges. Today, the defendant made his initial appearance in Indianapolis and was ordered detained in the custody of the United States Marshal pending trial. If convicted, Castillo faces up to life in prison on each of the two charges. Actual sentences are determined by a federal district court judge and are typically less than the maximum penalties.

Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana, and Herbert J. Stapleton, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Indianapolis Field Office, made the announcement.

The FBI’s Indianapolis Violent Crimes Task Force and Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force investigated the case. The Lawrence Police Department, the FBI’s Garrett Mountain Resident Agency Violent Crimes Task Force, the United States Marshals Service, the Passaic County, New Jersey, Prosecutor’s Office, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey provided valuable assistance and worked together to rescue the victim.

U.S. Attorney Myers thanked Assistant United States Attorney Tiffany J. Preston, who is prosecuting this case.

In fiscal year 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, the Southern District of Indiana was second out of the 94 federal districts in the country for the number of child sexual exploitation cases prosecuted.

This case was 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 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.justice.gov/psc

A complaint is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Updated July 29, 2022