SANTA ANA (CBS) — An Orange County dad is behind bars tonight after allegedly exposing himself online to an internet user he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.
ICE agents were tracking 46-year-old Jose Romo’s every online move as part of a new task force put in place to crack down on sexual predators in Orange County.
Agents say Romo sent instant messages in a Yahoo! Messenger chat room to a decoy he believed to be a minor female. Many of Romo’s messages were too sexually explicit for KCAL9 to share with viewers.
In one of the least offensive messages, agents say Romo wrote, “I bet your cute enough to eat lol [sic].” When the decoy replied “im still in school. im 13 [sic],” Romo replied, “I would love to see ur cute butt baby…[sic].” When asked what he wanted to see, Romo reportedly typed, “All of u ‘nice cute booty [sic].’”
Romo was unaware he was actually chatting with a Homeland Security investigator.
Once Romo began to stream live video that he apparently shot while touching himself in the nude, agents decided to arrest him. Sherriff’s deputies and ICE agents arrived at Romo’s Santa Ana home Wednesday night with a search warrant and took him into custody.
“This is a bad guy,” said Assistant Special Agent in Charge Joseph Macias. “That’s someone we need to pursue and get him off the street.”
Agents seized a webcam from Romo’s car, and a laptop and hard drives from inside the home he shares with his wife, his 14-year-old son, and 17-year-old daughter.
“How would you feel if someone did this to your daughter,” asked KCAL9’s Stacey Butler as Romo was taken away. “Do you have anything you’d like to say?”
Romo did not respond.
Macias says he has a message for sexual predators in Orange County. “You want to keep on going on to the internet to chase our children,” says Macias, “I’ll make sure our task force keeps chasing you.”
This was the 21st arrest made by the Orange County Child Exploitation Task Force, which is made up of federal and state agents.
Romo is being held in the Orange County jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.