Florida teacher arrested for enticement of minors

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TAMPA, Fla. – A Dade City middle school teacher was arrested Friday for enticement of minors by special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

David Wendel Thompson, 48, of Seffner, is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

According to the criminal complaint, Thompson used Facebook to attempt to knowingly persuade two minor females from Belize to engage in sexually explicit conduct. In February 2014, Thompson had sexually explicit conversations with a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old female in Belize. In those conversations, he discussed flying to Belize to meet the minors and to engage in sexual activity with them. On March 14, Thompson took a flight from Tampa to Belize City, with a layover in Miami. He was refused entry into Belize and arrested at the Miami International Airport upon return.

A criminal complaint is merely a formal charge that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal laws, and every defendant is presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.

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.

For additional information about wanted suspected child predators, download HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app or visit the online suspect alerts page.

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.

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