HURST — Following a child pornography tip, police have arrested a 17-year-old male who posed as a 12-year-old child to attend a Hurst elementary school.
According to a statement released by Hurst police, 17-year-old Ricardo Jhavid Lugo and 28-year-old Randy Ray Wesson were arrested following the tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Based on the lead, authorities obtained a warrant and searched a Fort Worth home, where they found "evidence of child pornography and exploitation of children."
On Friday Hurst the Department of Justice said Wesson was in federal custody and charged with transporting and shipping child pornography.
According to an arrest affidavit, Wesson admitted to authorities that he had "...42,000 child pornography images on his computer, thumb drives, phone and SD cards...[and] also admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children between the ages of 7 to 14 years of age."
Wesson and Lugo had been living together in a small, single-story home off David Drive in Fort Worth since March, according to police.
Upon further investigation, police discovered Lugo was enrolled at Hurst Hills Elementary, where he posed as a 12-year-old and attended sixth grade classes. Police say counterfeit documents were used to enroll Lugo into the school.
According to a statement from the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, Lugo enrolled in August. District officials say Wesson posed as Lugo's father during the process and provided a birth certificate, immunization records and proof of residency.
"Hurst Hills staff followed all procedures regarding enrollment when the student was enrolled in August," the statement read. "There was no indication that the student's records were forged or that the student was too old to attend elementary school. The student's behavior at school also did not raise any concerns."
School officials contacted the parents of students Thursday and sent letters home with students to share news of the arrests.
Lugo was taken out of school by Child Protective Services on Tuesday and arrested Wednesday. Danny Scott, a parent of a fourth-grade student, said his wife saw Lugo being removed from school Wednesday.
"It seemed really odd, but we thought it was drugs," he said. "We thought, 'Well, maybe one of the kids is doing drugs down here or something or had drugs with him,' but we had no idea it would be anything like this."
District officials say they don't know if any of the seized pornography included a child from Hurst Hills Elementary.
The affidavit indicates that at least one video found on Lugo's phone shows him spanking a child seen in other pictures from the school.
Another parent said he didn't learn of the arrest until he arrived to school Thursday afternoon to pick up his child.
"It's disheartening," said Wale Aridegbe, whose son attends the second grade at the school.
Judy Ramos, a spokeswoman with HEBISD, said they waited until Thursday afternoon to release news of the arrests because officials didn't release specifics of the case and charges until that day.
"We found out yesterday, Wednesday, that the [...] former student had been removed by Child Protective Services and we knew that he had been arrested," she said Thursday afternoon. "But today was when we got the rest of the details."
Ramos said district and school staff are "sickened" by the case.
"We couldn't believe what we were finding out," she said. "So, we're fully cooperating with law enforcement."
Hurst police say they are trying to identify any individual victims. Officers and district officials are urging parents to talk with their children to see if they had any contact with Lugo.
"Talk with your kids and report what you know," Ramos said.
Police say Lugo and Wesson met through a social media site. While Lugo traveled to North Texas from Mexico voluntarily, authorities say they believe the teen is an American citizen.
Wesson was charged with possession of child pornography with the intent to promote, the sale/display of harmful materials, and tampering with a governmental record. Lugo was charged with possession of child pornography.
Hurst police say they're concerned there may be additional unknown victims and have asked anyone with information pertaining to the crime to call 817-788-7146. They've also urged concerned parents to call as well.
Lugo's bond has been set at $250,000 and Wesson's at $3 million.