John Michael Romero Mendoza of Boca Raton, Florida was arrested after he solicited an undercover officer who was posing as a 15-year-old boy online, according to news reports. Mendoza, 26, was charged with enticement of a minor over the Internet. His pre-trial detention hearing will reportedly take place on June 18. It remains unknown whether he is eligible to receive bail bond or has retained a private criminal defense lawyer.
According to a press release by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the undercover operation into the alleged sex offense was conducted with help from the South Florida Internet Crimes against Children Task Force (ICE-CTF) and the Boynton Beach and Boca Raton Police Departments. The arrest directly coincided with another sting that the US Attorney’s Office was involved in called Operation Cyber Child, which ran from June 1-10. The sting was one of several recent undercover investigations during which a team of undercover detectives posed as children or the parents or guardians of children and posted advertisements for sexual activity on websites such as Craigslist.
The official press release states that Mendoza contacted a detective who was posing as a 15-year-old boy “for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.” Mendoza allegedly solicited the boy for sex acts, sent him a “pornographic image,” then traveled to a location where he believed he would be able to engage in sexual activity with the boy. He was met with police officers and arrested. It does not appear as though Mendoza or any of Mendoza’s family or friends have commented publicly on the allegations. If convicted, Mendoza may be sentenced to up to a life prison sentence. If he is convicted and released, he will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, the press release indicates.
While little is known about Mendoza’s profession or life, several of the defendants arrested as a part of Operation Cyber Child have been highlighted in the press because of their professions. These reportedly include Disney security guard, 5th-grade teacher and youth soccer coach, military official, and NASA engineer. The sting, which originated in Polk County, was reportedly the largest sex predator bust ever in the county.
According to news reports, several of the men drove fancy cars, such and Jaguars and Infinities, to the house in Haines City where they allegedly thought they would be meeting with minors for sex. Some of the defendants allegedly took items such as bondage equipment, sex toys, condoms, alcohol, and even candy to the meeting point. These items were in all likelihood confiscated as evidence.
One of the defendants, Randy May, allegedly did not want to leave his home but told undercover detectives online that “he wanted to have sex with a 14-year-old virgin” and requested naked photos of children. Police officers reportedly arrested him at his home. Another defendant, who is reportedly actively in the military, allegedly tried to purchase a 14-year-old girl for $1,500, even going as far as putting down a down payment of $500.