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Hightstown Child Predator Suspect Found in Panama, Charged in Trenton

The Hightstown 31-year-old sought since January for child pornogaphy possession faces formal charges today in a Trenton federal courtroom, following his extradition from Panama.

Fredy Marcelo Arbito
Fredy Marcelo Arbito (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement)

Fredy Arbito’s photo had been widely distributed by agents of U.S. Homeland Security after he vanished from their radar screens in January. He was arrested last month.

According to HSI Special Agent Andrew McLees, it might have been a much longer search without international cooperation. “Our attaches…in Quito, Ecuador…and Panama City, Panama were both instrumental in developing the investigation and helping with his apprehension.”

The charge is one count of child pornography possession but the multiple-page complaint extends into much darker territory – detailing the exploitation of a 14-year-old girl in Ecuador who thought she was striking up a friendship with another teen girl.

Prosecutors allege that Arbito masqueraded as a 14-year-old Colombian girl called Angely as early as July 2011, coaxing the Ecuadoran teen into undressing completely in front of her webcam during video chats.

The victim told authorities she believed Arbito to be a girl with curly light brown hair. Investigators have not disclosed whether he altered his appearance or used other means of visual deception.

What followed, say HSI agents, was a brutal terrorization of the teen by threatening to paste stills of her nudity all over her friends’ Facebook pages, unless she continued the lewd behavior.

Investigators say Arbito launched several images to one Facebook page after she cut off contact, threatening to broaden the exposure. Ecuadoran officials notified US agents after tracing Arbito’s IP designation to Hightstown.

McLees stresses the need for parents to keep track of their children’s activities on the web, and for candid interaction about the unseen traps.

“There is monitoring software available,” he says, in addition to ISPs with parent-control options, “and I would advise parents to consider purchasing it if they have the means.”

He also notes that smart-phone apps are available to give parents a view of texts. “Any active parent wants to know what their kid is up to,” he says.

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