Detectives allege Wright's luggage included $2,000 in cash, baby clothes, and a bottle

By Chris Harris
February 01, 2016 03:35 PM

Federal authorities have arrested a 23-year-old former seminarian, saying he allegedly planned to take a trip to Mexico to have sex with infants and young girls.

Joel Wright of Columbus, Ohio, was detained on Friday by Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in San Diego, charged with traveling with the intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor and attempting to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country.

Authorities say Wright’s arrest capped a months-long undercover child sexual exploitation investigation that began with an anonymous tip.

According to charging documents, Wright had been emailing with an undercover officer he believed to be a Mexican tour guide. In the emails, Wright allegedly expressed an interest in visiting Tijuana to adopt a child under 3 years old he could have sex with.

Police allege Wright unsuccessfully tried adopting a child last year.

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Court records claim Wright booked his flight to San Diego and made arrangements to meet the agent before going to Tijuana. Once in Mexico, Wright allegedly planned to visit a hotel where he would be presented with “female infants” to choose from.

Wright was arrested soon after his flight from Ohio landed in San Diego, police say.

Detectives allege Wright’s luggage included $2,000 in cash, baby clothes, and a bottle.

Wright has yet to enter a plea to the charges against him, and information regarding his defense lawyer was unavailable Monday.