CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Three men, two from Corpus Christi, have been arrested in separate but similar cases of soliciting a minor for sexual purposes, according to U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
Federal criminal complaints were filed Wednesday against 41-year-old Spencer Salcedo and 52-year-old Jesse Hernandez, both of Corpus Christi, and 54-year-old Darrell Freeze of Pettus, Texas.
Officials said the men were communicating with a person they believed was the mother of two minor children ages 14 and 11. Police said each man allegedly expected to meet and engage in sexual conduct with the minors. They were arrested as they arrived at the designated meeting place.
Authorities said Salcedo was taken into custody Thursday and is expected to make his initial court appearance at 2 p.m. Hernandez and Freeze were taken into custody last week and appeared in federal court Wednesday. Both were temporarily ordered into custody pending a detention hearing July 31.
If convicted, each man faces a minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine.
The arrests were a part of Operation Hidden Predator, a joint operation by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, the Corpus Christi Police Department's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and the Nueces County District Attorney's Office.
This case, prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hugo R. Martinez, was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May of 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, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims.
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