Joel Wright has been arrested by federal agents in San Diego, and the seminary student is accused of something almost unthinkable — trying to arrange a trip to Mexico so he could adopt and then rape an infant.
The 23-year-old Ohio man was arrested for reportedly contacting who he believed was a Mexico-based tour guide he had met through a Craigslist ad, Fox 13 Now reported.
“Wright allegedly stated that he wanted to travel to Tijuana to adopt or own a child under 3 years old and have intercourse with the child,” federal authorities said in a statement.
Joe Wright even booked a flight from Ohio to San Diego, where he was supposed to meet a friend of the our guide. Wright was then supposed to cross the border to a hotel in Tijuana, where he would meet the female infants he was planning to choose from, authorities said.
An official press release from U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement revealed the details.
“According to the criminal complaint, after receiving a tip, an undercover HSI special agent took over an email account and began chatting with Wright. Wright believed he was still communicating with a Mexico-based male tour guide he met after placing an online ad. During the email chats with the undercover investigator, Wright allegedly stated he wanted to travel to Tijuana to adopt or own a child under 3 years old and have intercourse with the child.”
Joel Wright: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know https://t.co/SpWZodJF5S pic.twitter.com/bRy9yxOjad
— viraleditorial (@viraleditorial) February 1, 2016
Joel Wright, 23, was arrested by undercover federal agents at San Diego International Airport on Jan https://t.co/OELgC4ItKU
— Rodney Whack (@BigYoung71) January 31, 2016
Wright has been arrested on a count of crossing state lines with the intention to engage in a sexual act with a minor and attempting to travel in foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illegal sexual conduct with another person, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego said.
“This investigation opens a window into a secret world where sexual predators prey on young children around the globe,” said Dave Shaw, special agent in charge for HSI San Diego. “Pedophiles who mistakenly believe they can escape justice by committing child sex crimes outside the U.S. should be on notice that HSI will seek to vindicate the rights of those victims regardless where they live. Fortunately, in this instance, our perseverance and diligence prevented the sexual exploitation of yet another innocent victim.”
The Vermont native was attending Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, where he was training to become a priest. Wright, who was diagnosed with glaucoma as an infant, reportedly wanted to help encourage other people suffering disabilities, a profile on Vermont’s state government website noted.
“Joel feels a calling to the ministry of a priest in order to help others find themselves and find purpose in their lives,” the page said.
Officials from Wright’s college released a statement after his arrest expressing shock at the nature of his alleged crimes.
“We’re both shocked and saddened to learn of his involvement in such reprehensible allegations,” the Rev. John Allen, a school spokesman, said in a statement to the Columbus Dispatch.
Wright’s arrest was part of the HSI’s Operation Predator, an international effort to hunt down sexual predators. The program has been responsible for more than 12,000 arrests since its inception in 2003, including arrests for crimes against children such as the production and distribution of child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children.
Joel Wright is expected to be arraigned on Monday for charges of trying to arrange sex with infants.
[Image via U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement]