In Midland today, a federal judge sentenced 43-year-old Irick Dron Oneal to life in federal prison for sex trafficking a 15-year-old girl announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr., and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E. Lindquist, El Paso Division.
In addition to the prison term, United States District Judge Robert A. Junell ordered that Oneal pay a $5,000 special assessment under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA).
On November 18, 2016, a federal jury convicted Oneal of one count of sex trafficking of a child. Evidence presented during trial revealed that on October 14, 2016, investigators took custody of the victim when she appeared at an Odessa hotel room. Previously, investigators responded to advertisements for sex with the minor posted on the Internet site Backpage.com. Authorities discovered Oneal in the hotel parking lot while waiting for the victim.
Oneal has remained in custody since his arrest in October 2016.
The investigation was developed as part of Operation Cross Country, a nation-wide operation conducted October 13-14, 2016 by the FBI to locate and rescue child victims of sex trafficking. The FBI was assisted by the Odessa Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety Criminal Investigations Division and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Harwood prosecuted this case on behalf of the Government.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), 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 the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, PSC marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about PSC, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/. For more information about Internet safety education, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/resources.html.