A Transportation Security Administration worker at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida was arrested on federal charges last Wednesday for allegedly seeking an underage girl for sex. The Palm Beach Post reported that when Gary Linder, of Lauderhill, obtained the phone number of an 11-year-old girl in January, he began grooming her for sexual activity via text message.
Officials say that in one of the text messages that the 27-year-old TSA worker allegedly sent the pre-teen, he asked her if she hit puberty yet, followed by a slew of “inappropriate questions about her body and development.”
When the girl’s parents reportedly found the inappropriate text messages on her phone, they contacted police and gave them her phone. For about a month, law enforcement officers posed as the 11-year-old girl as a component of their investigation, responding to his messages that included pornographic pictures of himself.
At one point during the conversation, Linder supposedly tried to get the child to send him sexually explicit pictures of herself, giving her instructions on how to snap the photo.
On April 4, around 4 p.m., police say that after sending the child over 1,000 text messages, Linder agreed to meet with her at a park in Plantation. His intentions were to have sex with the underage girl inside his vehicle, police say.
When he arrived at the Plantation park, he was approached by officers and later confessed to sending inappropriate text messages to the young girl.
The TSA worker was arrested and booked into the Broward County jail. Linder is now facing “federal charges of using a cellphone to entice a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct to produce child pornography and transferring obscene materials to a minor.”
Linder purportedly told officers that he knew the girl and said that she was a family friend. He added that he was attracted to young girls between the ages of 6- and 14-years-old.
Police believe that he may have been texting other girls between the ages 14 and 16 because they discovered two child pornography images while searching his phone.
Linder has worked as a TSA agent since November 2016, but after his arrest, the agency stated that they are now in the process of terminating his employment.
He made a court appearance early Tuesday morning where he was seen sobbing uncontrollably while looking at his father in the courtroom. He is being held at the Broward County jail, pending the outcome of the case.
If he is found guilty of the charges, police say he could face up to 15 years in prison.