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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 13, 2016

Texas Man Sentenced to Life in Federal Prison for Interstate Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity

            Fayetteville, Arkansas – Kenneth Elser, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced that Shilo Watts, age 40 of New Braunfels, Texas, was sentenced today to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole on one count of Interstate Transportation of a Minor with the Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity.  The Honorable Timothy L. Brooks presided over the sentencing hearing in the United States District Court in Fayetteville.   

            According to court records, in October of 2012, special agents with the Homeland Security Office in San Antonio, Texas, began investigating the sexual abuse of a minor Marshallese male living in Northwest Arkansas by the defendant, Shilo Watts. Based on this investigation, Homeland Security agents were able to determine that Watts had lived in the Marshall Islands for several years and had helped bring several young Marshallese males to the United States. Those males were contacted by law enforcement and interviewed.  An interview of one of the minors revealed that Watts began sexually abusing him when he was in the Marshall Islands and continued after he relocated to the United States. Specifically, the minor stated that between 2008 and 2012 when he was living in Springdale, Arkansas, Watts would drive up from his home in Texas and pick-up the minor and other Marshallese boys and transport them from Springdale to his or his family’s residence in New Braunfels, Texas. The minor stated that during one such trip in 2009 when he was 14 years of age, Watts sexually abused him after transporting him from Springdale, Arkansas to New Braunfels, Texas.  Shilo Watts was indicted by a federal grand jury on October 28, 2015 and pleaded guilty to the charge on January 6, 2016. 

            “The lifetime sentence imposed on Watts sends a clear message that there are serious consequences for those who exploit children in any way,” said Special Agent in Charge, Shane Folden, HSI San Antonio. “Targeting crimes of this nature is a high priority for HSI. We will continue to dedicate HSI resources nationwide to identify and bring to justice these individuals."

            This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Springdale Police Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Dustin Roberts prosecuted the case for the United States.

            The 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 their Criminal Division Child Exploitation and Obscenity Sections (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.

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Related court documents may be found on Public Access to Electronic Records Website @www.Pacer.gov

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated May 13, 2016