CARLSBAD, N.M. (KRQE) – Police say a counselor stopped a Carlsbad man from preying on middle school students.
The suspect was caught sending inappropriate messages to a girl, 13, on Facebook.
“A lot of people use fake profiles,” said Carlsbad Police Detective Sergeant Blaine Rennie. “You will have grown adults using a child’s Facebook profile.”
Police say Martin Delacruz, 20, posed as a 16-year-old boy and randomly asked an Alta Vista Middle School girl to accept his friendship. That’s when the messages started.
“For about a week they stayed pretty normal. After that, they turned very sexual,” said Rennie.
The criminal complaint says Delacruz repeatedly asked the girl to send him nude photos. According to reports, he offered to pick her up at her house so they could have sex.
Police say the victim tried to stop the conversations. She would say no and send him an image that symbolizes hiding your face with both arms as if you’re embarrassed.
Weeks into messaging one another, the victim’s school counselor found the conversations and turned them over to police.
“They were concerned enough about the conversations they contacted us,” said Rennie.
Carlsbad school officials say they teach their employees to be aware of certain things that could trigger cases like this.
“You can see changes in attitude. You can see changes in demeanor from all the kids when they get into this stuff,” said Carlsbad Schools Superintendent Gary Perkowski.
Detectives are praising the school counselor.
“You take one of these guys off the street you have saved someone’s child from a lifetime of bad memories and therapies,” said Rennie.
Delacruz told police he just got out of a relationship and wasn’t thinking straight. He says he knows what he was doing was wrong.
Carlsbad police are investigating if Delacruz was messaging anyone else.