OAN’s Abril Elfi
6:35 PM – Thursday, January 11, 2024
A Texas man is now in federal custody after police linked him to video evidence from the dark web where he and six other men were filmed sexually assaulting two toddlers.
According to authorities, 29-year-old Arthur Hector Fernandez was arrested on December 28th in Texas in connection to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Houston on December 14th.
The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation purportedly contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) earlier in December, according to the complaint.
Four videos that were posted on a dark web forum that is accessible only by invitation were shared by the organization with the FBI.
Through social media, the FBI was able to identify one of the toddlers, who was under 3-years-old.
The complaint states that after seeing a copy of the video, one of the child’s relatives had identified Fernandez’s bracelets.
The child’s relative had been reportedly working at adjacent stores from the sexual abuser at the Houston Galleria Mall and the two eventually became friends. She informed the FBI that he occasionally “watched [her] child as a favor” while she worked.
The complaint goes on to say that investigators believe at least one of the revolting videos is taken in a public restroom at the mall since a baby’s changing table is present.
“The evidence in this case is overwhelming and revolting,” the judge wrote in a court order requiring Fernandez to remain detained pending trial. “I cannot allow (him) to abuse any other minors and there are no conditions or combinations of conditions that can alleviate a danger to the community. This is not a close call.”
Fernandez has now been charged with rape and sexual exploitation of children. Police are still searching for the other six men involved.
The complaint describes the graphic videos that depict two separate children, “aged two to three,” being sexually abused by Fernandez and two other men while the others stood by and watched.
The two common identifiers of Fernandez was his two silver bracelets and white Converse All-Star shoes, which he reportedly “always wears.”
One of the toddlers was linked by the FBI to a relative who shared pictures of the same child on social media platforms. The FBI agent utilized an open-source A.I. image repository in order to find the child’s family.
When one of the children’s mothers was unable to find child care, Fernandez, a mall store employee, offered to watch the child, she told investigators. She acknowledged the bracelets and added that Fernandez frequently wore white Converse All-Star sneakers.
Along with executing a search warrant for Fernandez’s residence, the FBI also took possession of his electronics and his pair of sneakers that were shown in the videos.
According to the complaint, the FBI was also able to find a relative of the second minor by searching through Fernandez’s Instagram account. The second child’s relative also disclosed to the investigators that on Halloween, Fernandez took the second child trick-or-treating.
Fernandez was arrested in late December and remains in federal custody.
The names of the two children’s relatives were not disclosed by authorities, and neither are the names of the toddlers since they are under the age of 18.
This is a developing story. Check back for more details.
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