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A federal grand jury in El Paso, Texas, has charged a 31-year-old Artesia man with sex trafficking of children.

United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr., Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas E.Lindquist, El Paso Division, and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Waldemar Rodriguez, El Paso Division, made the announcement Tuesday on the U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Texas website.

The federal indictment, returned Sept. 9, charges Vernon “Vito” Dimayuga with three counts of sex trafficking of children. According to the indictment filed in the case, beginning in May 2011 through May 2012, Dimayuga recruited three children under the age of 18 to engage in commercial sex acts. Federal authorities arrested Dimayuga Friday in Las Cruces.

The indictment and arrest warrant were unsealed during his initial appearance Monday in federal court in Las Cruces before U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel M. Carson. He remains in federal custody pending a preliminary and detention hearing scheduled today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephan M. Vidmar in Las Cruces.

“The arrest of Mr. Dimayuga for sex trafficking of minors demonstrates that the FBI and our partners in the Department of Homeland Security, El Paso Police Department, and El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will investigate all instances where children in our community are being harmed or exploited,” said Lindquist.

“HSI special agents are committed to working with our law enforcement partners to ensure those responsible for such heinous acts are justly prosecuted,” said Rodriguez.

Upon conviction, the defendant faces between 10 years and life in federal prison.

The case was the result of a joint investigation by the FBI and HSI as part of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam). Assistant United States Attorney Rifian Newaz is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.