FBI warns of predators targeting children online

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The FBI is trying to prevent violent crimes against one of New Mexico’s most vulnerable populations.

“They need to know that they have a safe place, somewhere they can go and say, this happened and I need help,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda said.

Bujanda said the biggest threat they face is online.

“They’re on apps that they’re downloading themselves and they’re going on different sites and they’re being approached constantly, right?” Bujanda said. “They might be just chatting with their friends and having regular dialogue, and then someone gets introduced to the group.”

Bujanda explained that from there, the child might unknowingly begin to develop a friendship with a predator.

“Then it turns into an ask, usually asking them for some kind of image of themselves. They could be very minor. And then it just kind of escalates from there,” Bujanda said. “But what we’re seeing here in New Mexico is no different than we’re seeing across the country – these online predators going after our children try to get some kind of financial gain or, in many instances, just to get these images.”

At the FBI’s Albuquerque headquarters, they have a Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force. They work with local partners like Albuquerque police, the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, New Mexico State Police, and others.

“What they mainly look at is those tips that are coming in that I suspect something’s happened to my child. There’s that piece of it, but there’s also them looking at these forums where we kind of see where these predators like to be, and where they like to go and target children,” Bujanda said. “So we try to be in those same areas so that we can hopefully get a leg up. And if we can get that leg up, then we can start those investigations a lot sooner to go ahead. Again, make sure that we’re not having a new victim happen out there.”

Bujanda emphasized that education is key. He’s encouraging families to have those tough conversations about the real dangers that children face online.

  • To submit a tip to the FBI, click here or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.
  • For more information about FBI Albuquerque, click here.
  • For more information about the FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children program, click here.