Authorities seek victims in child exploitation investigation
HOUSTON – A 37-year-old resident of Cypress remains in custody pending trial on charges of sexual exploitation of children, possession of child pornography and coercion and enticement, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery and acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. Collodi.
A federal grand jury has returned a six-count superseding indictment against Patrick Tran, charging him with production and possession of child pornography and coercion and enticement of multiple victims. He is set for his arraignment today at 2 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Christina A. Bryan.
The charges allege he used a fabricated online persona to entice hundreds of underage females for more than 10 years. He then coerced them to produce and transmit sexually-explicit videos of themselves, according to the allegations.
Authorities are seeking the public’s help in identifying potential underage victims. Law enforcement believes Tran may have asked numerous individuals under the age of 18 to produce such videos and/or engage in sexual conduct while online. Possible contact could have been with his alias – Reggie Smith – or through SnapChat with username Travis_Story20 or via Omegle, according to court records.
If you believe you are a victim or have any information regarding any such potential victims, please fill out the brief secure questionnaire available at www.fbi.gov/patricktran.
Tran was originally charged on March 24, 2021, and soon taken into custody. At the time of the detention hearing, the court heard how the case came to the attention of law enforcement. A mother of one of the alleged victims allegedly found her 10-year-old daughter standing naked in front of her iPad. According to testimony, chat communications appeared to show Tran was coercing her daughter into engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
The court also heard about approximately 4,000 video files containing webcam-based videos of young females engaging in sexually explicit conduct, many of females under the age of 18. All are allegedly attributable to Tran.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew M. Edison found Tran to be a danger to the community and ordered Tran into custody pending further criminal proceedings.
If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
The FBI is conducting the investigation.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Leo and Luis Batarse are prosecuting the case, which was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section leads PSC, which marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children and identifies and rescues victims. For more information about PSC, please visit DOJ’s PSC page. For more information about internet safety education, please visit the resources tab on that page.