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Border Patrol agent in Sumas faces federal sex charge involving minors

McClatchy

A U.S. Border Patrol agent working and living in Whatcom County was accused in federal court this week of sharing sexually explicit photos and messages with minors online.

Micah Mardo, 36, of Sumas, is accused of enticement/attempted enticement of a minor, according to federal court records. Mardo was arrested Jan. 2 at the Sumas Border Patrol station by an FBI agent.

If convicted, Mardo faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Mardo is free on bond, and is being electronically monitored by the U.S. Marshal’s Office, federal court record show. He’s not allowed to leave his home except for religious, medical or legal reasons.

His next court appearance is Jan. 17 at 1 p.m. in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said they would not be releasing information about how long Mardo had been employed with the agency, or whether this would be considered an automatic termination offense.

“The U.S. Border Patrol stresses professionalism, honor and integrity in every aspect of our mission. A vast majority of the men and women employed with our agency meet this high standard day in and day out. As public servants, our agents are rightly held to a higher standard of conduct and are subject to the same laws and rules that apply to private citizens,” Blaine Sector Chief Patrol Agent Brian Martin wrote in an emailed statement. “We have and will continue to cooperate with any criminal or administrative investigations of alleged misconduct by any of our personnel, on or off duty.”

The tip

In mid-November, Mardo’s wife called a friend to say she found graphic child pornography on Mardo’s computer. Mardo’s wife has had concerns about her husband “for years but has not been able to get any evidence,” according to court documents.

The wife told her friend that she was on Mardo’s computer and found child pornography, emails to minors with pornographic photos, and conversations between her husband and a co-worker where he “described sexual fantasies about his own minor daughter and her friends,” according to court papers. Mardo’s eldest daughter is 14.

Mardo and his wife live in separate locations.

In February, Mardo’s wife installed an app that let her monitor his online activity. She saw Mardo was using the free online Kik messenger app to have sexual conversations with numerous people online. She monitored the activity for about a week, but couldn’t determine the age of any of the individuals, court papers indicate.

In early November, Mardo’s wife received a notification that Mardo was again having conversations on Kik, and was worried because she believed one of the individuals Mardo was chatting with was 15, the records state.

Mardo’s wife had access to Mardo’s Google account, where Mardo used the screen name “i.loveangels18”, and another sexually graphic username on Kik, records show. She also shared this account information with her friend.

According to the federal complaint filed in the case, the friend viewed the chats and took screenshots. She also saw and listened to multiple Google “voice to text” messages, the complaint indicated. The friend told FBI agents she saw sexually explicit messages from Mardo that indicated he was engaged in sexual conversations with girls as young as 13, the records show.

In some of the chats, Mardo pretended to be a 17-year-old boy, the records state.

The friend also took screenshots of Mardo’s Google search history, which included searches for “teen nude selfie” and other graphic things, the records show.

Mardo later changed his password.

The friend reported the incidents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The investigation

During the investigation, FBI agents found a 14-year-old girl who Mardo had been chatting with on the Kik app. During the interview, the girl told the agent she began speaking with Mardo about a year prior and believed he was in his 20s, according to the complaint.

The girl initially told Mardo she was 16, but later told him she was really 14, the records state. The girl told the agent that Mardo sent her his number several times, but she never saved or used it.

The girl told the agent Mardo talked about meeting up with her, and during one instance, came to a sporting event at a high school to look for her, the records state.

Mardo invited the girl to spend the night with him, and said he would come pick her up, the girl told the agent during the investigation, according to the complaint.

The girl also told the agent she and Mardo exchanged sexually explicit photos and that Mardo was aware of her real age at the time, the records show.

During an interview with investigators, Mardo admitted to having contact with the 14-year-old girl, as well as other girls he knew were minors, according to court documents. He also admitted to receiving naked pictures of the 14-year-old girl, and that he went to a high school sporting event “in hopes of seeing” her, records state.

Mardo also allegedly admitted to sending nude photos of himself as well.

Mardo has no known criminal history in Washington state.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt

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