Long Haul Truck Driver Sentenced for Transporting Children to Engage in Sexual Activity

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

EL PASO – Today an El Paso man was sentenced to life in prison for sexual exploitation of a minor.

According to court documents, Travis Wayne Vavra, 60, was a long-haul truck driver who advertised free amusement park passes and cross-country trips for boys to explore the United States. As a result of the advertisement, Vavra transported a minor in his tractor trailer from the El Paso, Texas area to different states, including New Mexico, Missouri, Arizona, California, Wisconsin, Illinois, Nebraska, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Louisiana from May 2015 to June 2019.  Vavra sexually assaulted the minor during these cross-country trips that began when the victim was nine years old.  Vavra had also previously molested two other victims. On the date of his arrest, Vavra posted another flyer for parents and boys advertising these free cross-country trips. Vavra was found to be in possession of child sexual abuse material on his phone at the time of his arrest.

On June 29, 2021, a federal jury found Vavra guilty of one count of transportation of minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and one count of possession of a visual depiction involving the sexual exploitation of a minor.  Vavra has remained in federal custody since his arrest on December 6, 2019.

“Our office is committed to vigorously prosecuting cases against individuals who prey upon the most vulnerable among us – children,” said U.S. Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “We, along with our law enforcement partners, strive to protect our communities from these sexual predators and bring justice to victims of these heinous crimes so that they can begin the healing process.”

“From suspicious flyers posted in store windows to reports of sexual abuse, the investigation involving Vavra showed how concerned citizens came together to stop a predator from destroying the innocence of additional young boys and assist in providing closure to the victims of his previous sexual assaults,” said Jeffrey R. Downey, FBI El Paso Special Agent in Charge. “We cannot protect our community alone. The FBI is thankful to those citizens who came forward to voice their suspicions. The FBI along with our partners assigned to the El Paso Crimes Against Children and Human Trafficking task force remain committed to the most vulnerable members of El Paso, the children.”

The FBI investigated the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Valenzuela and Richard Watts prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc.

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