BEAUMONT, Texas — A 29-year-old California man is being held at the Hardin County Jail on a $2 million bond.
Lumberton Police say Dillon Ellis drove from California to Lumberton to have sex with a 13-year-old girl who they say he met online.
This case caught the eye of many, including Lumberton Police Chief Danny Sullins and Jefferson County Special Crimes Chief Kim Duchamp.
Lumberton Police Chief Danny Sullins said they've turned the investigation over to the Texas Rangers and expect more charges to be filed against Ellis.
"Very seldom do you get caught the first time you break the law," Sullins said.
Sullins said Ellis has a fairly clean track record, aside from some stealing charges from California.
It initially appeared that the 13-year-old girl was Ellis' only victim. The Texas Department of Public Safety later confirmed on Friday that "Ellis was actively communicating with at least three other juveniles on social media and the details of those conversations are part of this ongoing investigation."
"We have his phone, and we have a search warrant for it, and we're dumping it. So, we're certainly going to look at that," Sullins said.
Sullins said Lumberton Police has dealt with these kinds of cases before, but typically the suspect is known to the victim.
"It's usually someone in the household or someone, a neighbor or someone nearby known to the child," Sullins said.
Kim Duchamp with the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office is no stranger to sex trafficking cases.
She agrees it's not normal to see someone travel from out of state to commit these sex crimes against children.
"On my trafficking cases, the trafficker or the pimp has been somebody local with the victim. Maybe they're not from Beaumont, maybe they're from Houston or Dallas," Duchamp said.
Duchamp encourages parents to set up what she calls "phone contracts" with their children in order to protect them from online predators.
"If I’m going to let you have a Tik Tok, or I’m going to let you have an Instagram, you are only allowed to follow people that you know in real life," Duchamp said.
Duchamp said work is being done at the local level to try and cut down on trafficking at the root of the problem.
She said this includes Beaumont ISD, which was the first school district in the state to implement the commercial sexual exploitation identification tool.
"They're on the frontlines for us to try to identify kids who we may need to work with and do some prevention and keep them from becoming a victim," Duchamp said.
Duchamp said our area is no stranger to these sex trafficking cases due to our location along I-10. You can always report a crime against a child to the police by calling 911.