San Juan County, NM -A Mora County Police Cadet was arrested in Farmington, NM today and charged with two counts of child solicitation by an electronic communication device (3rd degree felony). This arrest is a result of a proactive operation between the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office Special Enforcement Team (S.E.T.), SJC Sheriff’s Office Detectives, the San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Authority and the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force.
As part of an ongoing proactive online child solicitation investigation, on August 20, 2013 a member of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office S.E.T. posed as a minor on various websites. Mark Preller a 56 year old Mora County Sheriff Deputy, attending the San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Academy, responded to a message and not knowing that he was communicating with a deputy asked for the age of the individual. Preller used the internet and a cellular telephone to coerce and entice an individual whom he believed to be a minor to engage in sexual activity.
Preller committed the offense in San Juan County, NM and was arrested at approximately 3:30pm on August 22nd. The arrest occurred at the San Juan County Criminal Justice Training Academy west of Farmington. The reply they received was that they were communicating with a young minor female and a communication was soon established via text messages as well.
Preller’s phone number was also the same number provided by the suspect and used during phone conversations and text messaging between him and the “female minor”. Surveillance was established on Preller and as a result the task force was able to positively identify him as the suspect.
The case was also brought forth as part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force’s mission, which is to locate, track, and capture internet child sexual predators and internet child pornographers in New Mexico. There are 64 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies associated with the ICAC Task Force, including the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office. The ICAC Task Force is funded by a grant administered by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office. Anyone with information relating to the suspected child predators and suspected child abuse is encouraged to contact federal or local law enforcement.