Tampa, FL – U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell has sentenced Mateus Fernandes Evangelista Da Silva (23, Tampa) to 15 years in federal prison, followed by 20 years of supervised release, for attempting to patronize or solicit a minor for the purpose of engaging in a commercial sex act. Da Silva will be required to register as a sex offender upon release from prison. The court also ordered Da Silva to forfeit a cellular phone, which was used in the offense. Da Silva had pleaded guilty on April 26, 2023.
According to court documents, on October 6, 2021, Da Silva responded to an online sexual advertisement on a website that was initiated as part of an undercover operation by law enforcement to target individuals using the internet for purposes of engaging in commercial sex acts with children. Da Silva indicated to the undercover officer that he wanted to have sex with the minors that were depicted in the advertisement, referring to them as “babies.”
“Human trafficking and the exploitation of children are exceptionally horrific offenses,” said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Tampa Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kristopher Pagitt. “HSI and our law enforcement partners with the St. Petersburg Police Department will continue to aggressively pursue those who target children and attempt to utilize the internet to engage in these acts.”
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with assistance from the St. Petersburg Police Department. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Abigail K. King and former Assistant United States Attorney Lisa M. Thelwell.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.