Agents arrested an Albuquerque foster parent Wednesday after he allegedly agreed to trade drugs and cash for sex with a 13-year-old girl during an undercover sting, according to the Attorney General’s Office.
Joshua Saavedra, 45, is charged with child solicitation by electronic communication device, trafficking controlled substances and sexual exploitation of children by prostitution.
“Special agents conducted an undercover chat operation, in which an agent posed as a mother offering her fictional child for sex,” AG spokesman David Carl said. “Saavedra met at a predetermined location, where he was apprehended and taken into custody.”
After his arrest, Saavedra told agents he met the mother and daughter in an attempt to rescue the child from an abusive situation as he is a foster parent himself.
Agents discovered he has fostered 18 children over the past decade, and currently has three children, and one foster child, between the ages of 2 and 10 years old.
New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department spokesman Tripp Stelnicki could confirm the arrest, but no other details. He said CYFD has removed the children from Saavedra’s home and is working with the AG’s office in the investigation.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, on March 13, the AG’s Office started an undercover chat operation to target child predators on the website MeetMe.com.
Agents say an undercover agent posed as a mother selling her 13-year-old daughter, and Saavedra contacted them soon after asking about prices and possible services.
According to the complaint, Saavedra asked for the girl’s “stats” and said he was okay with her age “depending on how she looks.”
After hearing of the girl’s description, agents say Saavedra texted back “sounds very nice!” before detailing various sexual acts he wished to do with the girl and talking over prices.
According to the complaint, on Wednesday, Saavedra agreed to pay $20 and drugs before arranging to meet at the Econolodge Hotel, near Central and Interstate 25.
When Saavedra arrived, agents arrested him, and found the cash and pills – painkillers and uppers – in his pocket.
Saavedra told agents he did not plan on having sex with the girl and was planning to report the abuse to CYFD. When asked why he didn’t call law enforcement, Saavedra said he needed to “see it for himself.”
“Saavedra stated he knew the signs of abuse because he is a foster parent and has had several girls who have been sexually abused stay with him,” an agent wrote.