DELAND, FL – A 29-year-old DeLand man is in custody on charges he sexually battered a 13-year-old girl he met on the Snapchat app using a fake profile. According to authorities, Joaquin Mendez, 29, of Stone Street, DeLand, was arrested last night on a charge of lewd or lascivious battery of a victim under 16.
The incident was reported yesterday afternoon, after the girl’s mother found concerning text messages on her daughter’s phone during a routine check. The victim told her mom she had met Mendez on Snapchat and had sex with him that morning after he picked her up in his vehicle and drove her to a wooded area.
Deputies located the suspect vehicle at a house on Stone Street and maintained surveillance on it while detectives obtained a signed search warrant and arrest warrant. Mendez was arrested without incident around 1:30 a.m. today and taken to the Volusia County Branch Jail, where he was still in custody this morning on $25,000 bond.
The investigation revealed the Instagram and Snapchat accounts Mendez used to contact the victim displayed images of a young man who wasn’t Mendez.
Parents and guardians are encouraged to talk with their kids about the risks of chatting with strangers online or over apps. If you discover signs that your child has been sending or receiving sexually explicit messages, images or videos, call the Volusia Sheriff’s Office Child Exploitation Unit at 386-323-3574.