EL PASO – An El Paso man was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for coercion and enticement of a minor.
According to court documents, on April 24, 2021, Justin Allen Thomas, 32, began a conversation through a social media application with a 14-year-old. The conversation quickly turned sexual in nature and Thomas made plans to meet the teen for a sexual encounter. When Thomas showed up at the teen’s residence, he was arrested by law enforcement. Instead of a 14-year-old, Thomas was communicating with an FBI employee.
On May 2, 2022, Thomas pleaded guilty to one count of attempted coercion and enticement. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest on April 24, 2021.
“This case highlights the importance of undercover operations in preventing these individuals from harming children in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “Not only did this individual plan to meet with someone whom he thought was a 14-year-old to engage in prohibited sexual activity, but agents discovered child sexual exploitation material on his electronic devices after his arrest.”
“Individuals such as Mr. Thomas, who target the most vulnerable members of our community, will be held accountable for their actions,” said Jeffrey R. Downey, Special Agent in Charge FBI El Paso Field Office. “I am extremely proud of the hard work conducted by our Agents and the El Paso Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and Texas Department of Public Safety to ensure justice was served in this case. The FBI will continue to work hard to stop these crimes from occurring.”
The FBI, with valuable assistance from HSI, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the El Paso Police Department, investigated the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Valenzuela prosecuted the case.
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 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.justice.gov/psc.