Sep. 18—MACON — A Winterville resident convicted by a federal jury earlier this year of attempted online child enticement was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for his crime.
Noe A. Villafuerte, 48, of Winterville, was sentenced to serve 120 months in prison to be followed by 10 years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal after he was convicted by a federal jury on March 30 of attempted online enticement of a minor. In addition, Villafuerte will have to register as a sex offender for life upon release from prison. There is no parole in the federal system.
"Child predators will go to great lengths to victimize a child, as seen in this case and in nearly all of the online exploitation cases we encounter," U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said. "I hope this case serves as a reminder to parents and responsible adults to be aware of your young person's online activity and who they are communicating with. Law enforcement at every level is collaborating through Georgia's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force program to protect children from online exploitation."
"The GBI will continue to work tirelessly to protect innocent victims of online exploitation," GBI Director Michael Register said. "We are grateful for the partnerships we maintain with our local and federal agencies to bring these predators to justice."
"Predators like Villafuerte are just another example of why parents need to be vigilant and aware of their children's online activity," Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta Keri Farley said. "Fortunately, he connected with an undercover detective and not a child. The FBI remains committed to protecting our young citizens and is thankful for the law enforcement partnerships that make it possible to bring child predators to justice."
According to court documents and testimony presented at trial, Villafuerte was arrested as a result of "Operation End Game," a three-day proactive effort from July 25-27, 2019, centered in Athens to arrest adults communicating with children on-line and traveling to meet them for the purpose of having sex. During the online operation, an undercover detective posing as a 14-year-old girl placed an ad on an "escort" website known to be used by human traffickers. Villafuerte responded to the ad and began communicating with the undercover agent on July 25.
Villafuerte offered to pay the child $60 for sex in his vehicle, and they agreed to meet at a Kroger in Athens on July 26. Villafuerte was arrested shortly before 5 p.m. in the parking lot after searching the store and lot for the child.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.
The case was investigated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the GBI's Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the FBI and the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney's Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert McCullers prosecuted the case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Lyndie Freeman.