Inside a Mohawk police online sting that led to child luring charges in the U.S.

Police say a Canadian man charged with coercion of a minor texted kissing face emojis and wrote he was "Soooo EXCITED" to meet up with a 16-year-old American girl.

Canadian man charged in U.S. with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct

Christopher Terrance is facing U.S. federal charges of attempted enticement and coercion of a minor using a 'facility of interstate commerce' and attempted travel to the U.S. with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. (St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police)

Police say a Canadian man charged with coercion of a minor texted kissing face emojis and wrote he was "Soooo EXCITED" to meet up with a 16-year-old American girl.

In the stream of texts sent to set up the encounter, the man even suggested he could get the girl pregnant that night.

"So this is really happening? Or [am] I gonna get there and be rushed by police?" wrote the man, according to copies of the text messages contained in documents filed with the Northern New York District U.S. Federal Court.

Later that evening, on Aug. 1, police say Christopher Terrance, 34, drove from his home in the Snye, Que., portion of Akwesasne, about 120 km west of Montreal near the Canada-U.S. border, and crossed to the U.S. side of the Mohawk community.

He went to the Tim Hortons on Hwy. 37 in New York State where St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police were waiting for him.

He was arrested and searched. Tribal police say they found three condoms in his possession.

Weeks-long sting operation

Documents filed with the U.S. Federal Court lay out in rare detail the sting operation which began with the father of the girl discovering her Facebook Messenger exchanges with a man. Two officers then posed as the 16-year-old girl and communicated with the man over Messenger and cellphone texts.  

The tribal police said in a statement that the arrest was the result of an "extensive social media investigation."

Terrance is facing U.S. federal charges of attempted enticement and coercion of a minor using a "facility of interstate commerce" and attempted travel to the U.S. with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. In New York, individuals ages 16 or younger are not legally able to consent to sexual activity. 

The investigation is now being led by a special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations.

Text messages allegedly between Christopher Terrance and a St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police officer he believed was a 16 year-old girl. The messages were sent on Aug. 1, 2018, the day of Terrance's arrest. (CBC News)

Officers took over Facebook account

The investigation began July 3 after the girl's father alerted St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police that he had seen Facebook Messenger exchanges between his daughter and a grown man.

The father told police he "was upset" and knew the man. The father granted tribal police investigators access to his daughter's Facebook account and they set to work, according to the court documents.

Terrance sent his first message to the girl on April 27, 2017. She told him she was 15 in a July 11, 2017, conversation that led to a discussion around swimming and Terrance suggesting he wanted to see her in a swimsuit, according to a transcript filed with the court.

Terrance continued to message her throughout the year.

Text messages allegedly between Christopher Terrance and a St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Police officer he believed was a 16 year-old girl. The messages were sent on Aug. 1, 2018, the day of Terrance's arrest. (CBC News)

On July 3 of this year, after police took over the account, Terrance asked if the girl ever "blazes," in a reference to smoking marijuana, and suggested they "could smoke sometime. Lol its ok."

Two tribal police investigators, posing as the girl, continued to converse with Terrance throughout the month.

"You would be my angel," Terrance wrote on July 9 with the kiss emoji.

On July 15, Terrance wrote asking, "what color of panties you wearing?"

One of the officers, Casey Jacobs, responded, "purple ones tonight."

By this time, the investigators had switched the conversations to cellphone texts.

The girl continued to get sexually explicit messages that Jacobs would deflect.

'You're my only Angel'

On July 16, officer Julie Smoke took over the messaging. At one point, the girl was sent a photograph of condoms.

"But you're my only Angel Give it time sweetie," read the accompanying message.

"Really," Smoke responded.

"Yeah, just can't be rite away. You'll get put in jail! Lol," the man allegedly wrote. "We have to keep us a secret for now...It just has to be shh for now baby."

A few days later he allegedly sent her an explicit photo of a part of his body.

Then, on Aug. 1, the trap was set.

Smoke sent a photo — with the approval of the girl and her parents — of the girl dressed up to go out.

"Oh baby!!!!" Terrance wrote.

He then suggested he didn't want to use condoms and that the girl could "end up carrying my bb."

Smoke replied, "OMG guess that could happen lol."

During the interrogation after his arrest, Terrance told officers he knew the girl was 16 and admitted to purchasing the condoms found in his pocket that night, according to court records.

Terrance is currently in custody. A trial date has not yet been set, according to court records. Terrance's public defender, Paul Evangelista, said he could not comment on the case.

The U.S. Attorney's office said through a spokesperson it would not comment beyond what was already filed in court documents.

Federal investigators are also now searching for any evidence of child pornography, according to affidavits filed Nov. 20 as part of separate warrant applications to examine two of Terrance's cellphones and obtain his Facebook account activity.

About the Author

Jorge Barrera

Reporter

Jorge Barrera is a Caracas-born, award-winning journalist who has worked across the country and internationally. He works for CBC's Indigenous unit based out of Ottawa. Follow him on Twitter @JorgeBarrera or email him jorge.barrera@cbc.ca.