Durham County

Durham traveling pastor in the U.S. illegally faces child-sex charges

Juan Alberto Juarez Saravia
Juan Alberto Juarez Saravia

A traveling pastor in Durham has been arrested by State Bureau of Investigation officers on charges of alleged child sex abuse charges.

Juan Alberto Juarez Saravia, 35, a Salvadoran immigrant who entered the U.S. illegally, worked primarily in the Hispanic community in the Durham area, according to SBI investigators. He was one of 76 people arrested during a mutually coordinated law enforcement operation among eight southeastern states. Operation Southern Impact II also resulted in 13 children being rescued or identified as victims.

The Department of Homeland Security participated in the operation.

Saravia admitted to using a fictitious identity Facebook account to entice a 14-year-old Virginia girl into producing sexually explicit videos of herself which she then sent to Saravia, SBI investigators said. There may be more minor victims, investigators said.

Investigators are concerned because if there are more victims who are undocumented immigrants, they may be less likely to report the crimes committed against them.

Saravia was charged with first-degree sexual exploitation of a minor, second-degree sexual exploitation of a minor and taking indecent liberties with a child. Saravia was being held in the Durham County jail in lieu of $750,000 bail.

The SBI is working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine Saravia's precise immigration status and whether or not he previously has been deported.

Joe Johnson: 919-419-6678, @JEJ_HSNews