BOSTON – A Connecticut man who allegedly traveled to Watertown, Mass., March 19 to engage in sexual relations with a minor female was arrested. The arrest follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Paul R. Hinkel, 56, from Chester, Conn., was charged via criminal complaint on charges he persuaded, induced, enticed or coerced a minor to engage in sexual activity.
The criminal complaint alleges that in February 2014, HSI special agents placed an ad on Craigslist using a false identity, seeking a male that might be interested in a relationship involving a minor. Hinkel responded to the advertisement, and engaged in email communications with undercover special agents regarding the fictional minor and the sexual activities that he would engage in with her. On March 19, Hinkel traveled from his home in Connecticut to an apartment in Watertown to meet the fictional minor. He carried a bag to the door with him, which special agents later discovered contained sexual paraphernalia, men’s cologne and a stuffed animal.
"I am very proud of my agents’ tireless work in targeting online predators, and I would like to commend our outstanding partners in the Massachusetts and Connecticut State Police Departments," said Bruce Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. "The Internet is a necessity of modern life. However, we will continue to aggressively pursue those who use it to prey on the defenseless."
"We vigorously pursue defendants who intend to use the Internet to evade detection and to infringe on the protections of children," said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.
The details contained in the complaint are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This investigation was conducted under HSI’s Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators. Since the launch of Operation Predator in 2003, HSI has arrested more than 10,000 individuals for crimes against children, including the production and distribution of online child pornography, traveling overseas for sex with minors, and sex trafficking of children. In fiscal year 2013, more than 2,000 individuals were arrested by HSI special agents under this initiative.
HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free Tip Line at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.
HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.