BISBEE — A man in the United States seeking asylum was netted in a multi-law enforcement agency operation last week, after he spent two days chatting with an undercover investigator whom the suspect thought was a 14-year-old girl he was hoping to have sex with in Sierra Vista, a prosecutor said in superior court Friday.
Instead, when 37-year-old Oscar Zeledon-Sobalvarro showed up at the local Walmart armed with condoms and a Monster energy drink for his anticipated rendezvous with a teenage girl, he was summarily arrested by detectives.
Zeledon was arrested last week after he began chatting with a member of the Southeast Arizona Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (AZICAC). The defendant, who lives in Phoenix, thought the investigator was a 14-year-old girl and he made plans to travel to Sierra Vista and have sex with her, a prosecutor said in a Bisbee courtroom Friday.
The task force members involved in the operation included Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the United States Army’s Major Cybercrimes Unit, the U.S. Marshals Service, and detectives and officers from Sierra Vista Police and the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office.
Charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation and attempted sexual conduct with a minor, Zeledon, a car detailer in Phoenix, has been in the Cochise County Jail since his arrest on July 22.
At a bail evidentiary hearing Friday morning, Assistant Cochise County Attorney Lori Zucco told Superior Court Judge Jason Lindstrom that Zeledon is a “predator” who victimized members of his own family — who Zucco said have refused to cooperate with authorities on any investigation — and who is in the U.S. on asylum status. She said Zeledon has been involved in an arson case and also domestic violence.
“He is on asylum and he is allowed, because of the grace of our country, to remain here and he has been abusing the women in our country,” Zucco said.
She argued that Zeledon would pose a considerable flight risk because he has no ties to this area.
It’s unclear what country Zeledon is from. That information was not available on Friday.
Defense attorney Joshua Jones meanwhile, argued that there was no real victim in this instance.
“It was a simulated victim,” Jones said.
Zucco asked that Zeledon be held on a $500,000 bond, while Jones asked Lindstrom to release him on $10,000. The judge set bond at $200,000.
Zeledon’s next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 7. He has entered a not-guilty plea to the charges.