SAN DIEGO (CN) - An Ohio seminary student who was arrested by federal authorities on suspicion of trying to buy Mexican children will remain behind bars until his arraignment later this month.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Skomal heard from defendant Joel Alexander Wright, 23, who shuffled into the courtroom wearing an orange jumpsuit, spectacles and ankle shackles. Through his attorney Greg Murphy, Wright waived his right to a detention hearing until he is arraigned later this month.
Wright was arrested by federal authorities on Jan. 29 at the San Diego International Airport on suspicion of travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serano said the two violations Wright has been accused of carry a maximum sentence of 60 years to life in prison.
Federal prosecutors say that while attending school to become a priest at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, Wright unwittingly corresponded with a federal agent posing as a Tijuana tour guide who would procure infants for Wright to have sex with.
According to the complaint, Homeland Security received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children last November about a person who placed an ad on Craigslist soliciting the adoption of infants from Mexico. The tipster told authorities he responded to the advertisement and that he first met Wright a year and a half earlier when he placed a similar ad seeking to adopt a child in Mexico.
Wright originally traveled to Tijuana in July 2014, where he met the unnamed tipster he believed would find him a child to adopt. Wright paid the man an "adoption fee" and waited at a Tijuana hotel for the man to return with the child, but the man never came back, the 11-page criminal complaint says.
The tipster began communicating with Wright again a year later in July 2015 after Wright posted an ad looking for a travel guide when he came to Tijuana for a medical appointment. Wright also hoped to find a woman to marry and a child to adopt, according to prosecutors.
The complaint says that after communicating with the tipster, Wright eventually revealed his true intentions: to find young female infants to rape. In a message to the tipster on Nov. 25, 2015 Wright revealed he had experience assaulting infants stating, "I have not gone all the way before but I have made it very close in the past," the complaint says.
An undercover agent took over the tipster's email account a week later and began communicating with Wright, who revealed increasingly specific and graphic crimes he wanted to commit against young infants.
"I think one fun thing we could do at the same time with the infant baby is you could be in her mouth with your thing and I could be penetrating her so she would be getting it from both ways and she would suck you probably really hard," Wright wrote, according to prosecutors.
He also wrote in emails the agents intercepted that he wished to spank the children and make them upset.