Police have two people in custody after a man allegedly lured a 15-year-old Phoenix teen away from a relative’s home in California. The teen was later found in Mexico.
Police arrested 38-year-old Daniel Navarro and his accomplice 20-year-old Julie Le on Sunday in connection to the girl’s disappearance. They are both facing federal charges.
The Arizona teen had been visiting relatives in Nipomo, California for the summer. On July 1, the teen girl went missing. Officers say Navarro allegedly posed as a teen boy online and that the two had an online relationship for the past year. Navarro told the girl that he wanted to be in a relationship with her and asked her to run away with him to Mexico. Le, Navarro’s accomplice, drove the three down to Tijuana with the teen hidden in the backseat.
During the search for the missing teen, multiple agencies working together found social media accounts Navarro had used. Investigators found messages online between Navarro and the teen girl dating back to January 2021. Navarro allegedly messaged the teen professing his love and desire to have sex with her. Additional messages between Navarro and a relative of the teen girl were also found where he also tried to convince her to run away with him as well. In addition, there was communication that Navarro Officers asked other teens to send him sexual photos.
Navarro and Le, both residents of California were arrested when they attempted to re-enter the U.S. from Mexico. Authorities rescued the teen at a Tijuana home on Monday morning, ten days after her disappearance. Police report that she is now safe and with her family.
The U.S. Department of Justice will prosecute the case in federal court and will pursue a charge of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity with a minor. If convicted, the sentence carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison up to life without parole.