Durham man among 76 arrested in interstate child exploitation case

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Friday, March 16, 2018
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RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) -- A man who worked in Durham as a traveling pastor, as well as a Moore County man, were among 76 people, including eight men from North Carolina, who were arrested in a multistate child exploitation investigation that spanned four months.

There were 13 children rescued or identified as victims during the joint effort that included eight southeastern states, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation said.

Juan Alberto Juarez Saravia, 35, an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who worked as a traveling pastor in the Hispanic community in Durham was among those arrested.

The SBI said Juarez Saravia used a fictitious Facebook account to entice a 14-year-old Virginia girl into producing sexually explicit videos of herself, which she then sent to Juarez Saravia.

He is charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, and indecent liberties with a child.

Juarez Saravia is being held in the Durham County jail on a $750,000 bond.

The SBI said other charges could be pending as the case remains under investigation. The state agency is working with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to determine his immigration status.

"Much of what we do happens behind the scenes due to the sensitive issues of crimes against children and the need to respect the privacy of the victims," said NC SBI Special Agent in Charge Alan K. Flora. "Operation Southern Impact II highlights the types of investigations ICAC Task Force officers deal with on a daily basis.

A Moore County man was also arrested as part of the operation.

Kevin Scott Smith
Moore County Sheriff's Office

Moore County Sheriff's deputies executed a search warrant at a home in the Pinebluff area and deputies seized more than 250 sexually explicit videos involving minor children between the ages of 4 and 17.

Kevin Scott Smith, 40, was charged with 10 counts of felony second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and 10 counts of felony third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor.

Operation Southern Impact II began approximately four months ago and culminated in two days of investigative actions to include search warrant executions, undercover operations, and arrests in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. A total of 222 law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies participated in the operation

"It is important to understand that people who prey on children walk among us everywhere," Flora said. "They are in our schools, our churches, and hidden in plain sight in all of our neighborhoods. Many of them believe that they are operating anonymously on the internet, but I assure you they can be caught when adequate resources are committed to that cause."

Other North Carolina arrests included:

  • Richard Wayne Bell, 73, of Moyock, NC, for child pornography offenses. Bell was a church Deacon and served as an administrator in a church daycare program.
  • A 36-year-old Macon County construction worker accused of hands-on sexual offenses against as many as five children in North Carolina and other states.
  • A 37-year-old registered sex offender in Cherokee County who had failed to report an address change when he moved to a residence 290 feet from a local high school. Authorities said he was also using minor females to traffic drugs.
  • A registered sex offender, who worked as a magician, in Guilford County who detectives said was found with evidence of child pornography.
  • A 21-year-old Rowan County man who authorities said tried to extort a 17-year-old Canadian girl with nude photos of her taken when she was 14.
  • And acting on a tip about a child in danger, police officers in Monroe executed a search warrant at a residence where they found a 7-year-old girl in an abusive situation. The girl was removed from the home by the Department of Social Services. The child is safe and the case remains under investigation.