Ferndale felon tried to sneak over border for sex with girl, charges say

A Ferndale man has been charged with trying to cross the U.S-Canada border to have sex with someone he thought was a preteen girl.

Christopher David Johnston, 39, posted an ad in the casual encounters section of Craigslist looking for a “young lady to spoil,” according to a federal criminal complaint filed Friday, May 20.

Earlier this month an undercover U.S. Homeland Security agent replied to the ad, pretending to be a 12-year-old girl from Abbotsford, B.C.

“Honstly I just wanted to say hi and give u props for a hella legit ad,,,im prolly 2 young but still wanted to at least say props 4 keepin in reals (sic),” the agent wrote.

Over the weeks that followed they exchanged emails and texts that grew more and more sexually charged, even though the “girl” told him she’d turn 13 in a few months, according to the charges.

“R u sure im not 2 young for you?” the agent wrote Saturday, May 14.

“Your perfect sweetie, no freaking out here at all. I like it and it’s exciting,” he answered, according to the charges.

Transcripts take up seven pages of the complaint. Most are extremely sexual and graphic. In them Johnston begs for sexual pictures of the girl, and he describes exactly what he wants to do with her. In one text Johnston told her being with a young girl is “all I think about and all I want,” according to the complaint.

Eventually they arranged to meet up for sex at a hotel near Abbotsford, the complaint alleges. Federal agents kept him under surveillance as he left his home in Ferndale and had someone drive him to the Nooksack Northwoods Casino, a half-mile south of the U.S.-Canada border. He rode his bike east to Sumas, to a hayfield where the border is marked with a barbed wire fence.

There, he’s accused of sending a text to the “girl” that read, in part: “I don’t wanna get caught I can see Canada from where I’m sitting right now I’m about 100 yards from the border. I’m just watching to see when I can bust a move and cross safely.”

Agents arrested him a quarter-hour later, at 11:17 a.m., as he approached the fence. He’s charged in U.S. District Court in Seattle with attempted enticement of a minor.

Local court records show Johnston has been convicted of at least 10 felonies, for drug possession, burglary, forgery and several counts of theft. His last prison sentence was for breaking into the IT department at St. Joseph hospital in 2009.

Also, he has five pending felony cases in Whatcom County Superior Court, where he’s accused of check fraud, theft of a construction company’s keys, meth possession and the burglary of $10,000 in tools.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb