A 20-year-old Caldwell man found out last week he will spend at least the next five years in prison — and possibly much longer — for using the internet to lure a 14-year-old girl into having sex with him.
Alex Rangel pleaded guilty to charges of lewd conduct and enticement of children over the internet earlier this year.
Fourth District Judge Cheri Copsey sentenced Rangel last week to life in prison for the lewd conduct charge and 15 years for the enticement. The sentences run concurrently and allow Rangel to ask for parole after serving five years.
It also appears Rangel is in the country illegally, which means he will likely be deported when he is released from prison.
Ada County Sheriff’s detectives determined earlier this year Rangel tried to lure dozens of young teenage girls into sex using Facebook and other social media sites.
Rangel was charged with lewd conduct for having illegal sexual contact in March 2013 with a 14-year-old girl he met over the internet. The enticement charge involves a 13-year-old girl Rangel tried to entice through Facebook in November.
Rangel has also pleaded guilty to an enticement charge out of Canyon County where the victim was a 14-year-old girl. Judge Bradly Ford sentenced Rangel Tuesday to 15 years in prison for that charge, with the first five years fixed.
In the March case, Rangel used the social media program meet me.com to start a dialogue with the 14-year-old girl. Rangel told the girl he was 17. They then moved their online talk to the Kik Messenger program.
Rangel eventually got the girl to leave her house, where he picked her up in car. Rangel gave the girl marijuana and alcohol and had illegal sexual contact with her — including contact that happened after she told him to stop.
Detectives began their investigation in late May after being contacted by a third party. They later discovered Rangel continued to send the 14-year-old girl messages after the March incident — and that he was in contact with a number of other young girls.
It took some time to go through those posts and identify Rangel, whose face was obscured on his Facebook page, as the suspect in the case.
It was in November when a friend of one of the 14-year-old girls got a message on Facebook from Rangel, whom she recognized as the same man from the March incident.
By early December, detectives were posing as a 13-year-old girl and conversing with Rangel over the internet.
Detectives arrested Rangel Dec. 10 at a home in the 17000 block of Mountain Springs Avenue in Caldwell on the Canyon County charge.
Rangel was also charged with a felony count of delivery of a controlled substance to a minor and a misdemeanor count of providing alcohol to a minor. Those charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement with Ada County prosecutors.
Ada County Sheriff’s Detective Ryan Pacheco says parents and guardians can play a huge role in guarding their kids from online predators by regularly checking who the kids are interacting with.
“Since Facebook has been around for so long — and other web sites seem to get more headlines on these types of cases — parents forget that Facebook is a dangerous place for young teens to be interacting without parental guidance and oversight,” Pacheco said.
“Look at their friends list. If you don’t know who they are friends with, ask them,” Pacheco said. “If they have hundreds of friends, the odds are some are predators that could be attempting to groom young children into doing things they shouldn’t or normally wouldn’t.”
“This is a classic case of an adult scrubbing Facebook looking for young girls to take advantage of.”