BOISE -- A Caldwell man who is accused of trying to lure dozens of young teenage girls into sex by using Facebook and other social media sites, has been indicted on charges of lewd conduct and enticement of children over the Internet.
An Ada County grand jury indicted 20-year-old Alex Rangel. He is charged with lewd conduct for having illegal sexual contact in March with a 14-year-old girl. Enticement charges include a 13-year-old victim he met through Facebook in November.
Rangel is currently in the Canyon County Jail on a felony enticement charge that involves a 14-year-old Caldwell girl.
Detectives say since March, Rangel was in contact with more than two dozen girls on Facebook, and they working to find those girls and determine if there are more victims.
“Since Facebook has been around for so long — and other web sites seem to get more headlines on these types of cases — parents forget that Facebook is a dangerous place for young teens to be interacting without parental guidance and oversight,” Ada County Sheriff’s Detective Ryan Pacheco said. “This is a classic case of an adult scrubbing Facebook looking for young girls to take advantage of.”
In the March incident, detectives say Rangel used meet me.com to start communicating with his 14-year-old victim. Rangel claimed he was 17 and arranged to meet the girl. Investigators say he gave the girl marijuana and alcohol, and had illegal sexual contact with her, even after she told him to stop.
Detectives say it took some time to identified Rangel because his face was obscured on his Facebook page.
Once they identified the suspect, detectives were able to find more victims. In early December, they posed online as a 13-year-old girl and later arrested Rangel on Dec. 10 at a home in the 17000 block of Mountain Springs Avenue in Caldwell.
Rangel is also charged with a felony count of delivery of a controlled substance to a minor and a misdemeanor count of providing alcohol to a minor.
The crime of lewd conduct is punishable by up to life in prison.
Pachecho says parents can play a huge role in guarding their kids from online predators by regularly checking who they are interacting with.
“Look at their friends list. If you don't know who they are friends with, ask them,” Pacheco said. “If they have hundreds of friends, the odds are some are predators that could be attempting to groom young children into doing things they shouldn't or normally wouldn't.”