Complaint details predator’s grooming of teen in Nipomo

July 16, 2022

Daniel Navarro and Julie Le


As the two predators accused of taking an Arizona teen from her grandmother’s home in Nipomo await a July 28 preliminarily hearing, a criminal complaint details the process they used to groom their victim through social media.

With plans to sexually exploit the teen, Daniel Navarro, 38, of Victorville and Julie Le, 20, of Garden Grove talked the 15-year-old girl into running away with them on June 1. During an intensive investigation, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff deputies and FBI agents were able to track the teen and her abductors to Mexico, arrest Navarro and Le and rescue the teen.

In order to protect the teen, CalCoastNews is referring to her as the “teen,” and others by their relationship to the teen.

Warning: Some of the information investigators discovered is disturbing.

More than a year ago, Navarro befriended the teen’s older brother on social media and they began playing online games together. Navarro claimed he was a 15-year-old boy named “Angel.”

Later, introducing himself as a friend of her brother’s, Navarro began playing online games with the teen and her younger sister.

On Feb. 8, 2022, Navarro and the then-14-year-old teen began engaging in non-game related communications. The conversations quickly turned romantic with both calling the other “baby,” while they professed their love for each other.

On March 21, 2022, Navarro and the teen messaged each other about having a baby.
Navarro: “Baby, I want you so bad.”
Navarro: “I want a baby.”
Navarro: “Please”
Teen: “Ok, I’ll give u one.”
Navarro: “Really”
Navarro: “When do we start?”
Teen: “When ever we can.”

On March 26, Navarro talked the teen into sending him nude photos while she was in the shower.

Teen: “I can’t take long because my little cousin still has to take a shower.”
Navarro: “Ok baby”
Navarro: “Dammnnn baby”
Navarro: “Booty”
Navarro: “Damn baby”

The Arizona teen, who regularly visits her grandmother in Nipomo, also spends time with a cousin who lives in Santa Maria.

The teen introduced her cousin to “Angel,” who began texting the cousin. After Navarro abducted the teen, the cousin told deputies during an interview she thought “Angel” was older because he used “big words” and did not understand slang or “teen words.”

In March or April 2022, “Angel” contacted the cousin and asked her to run away with him. The cousin said, “No.”

On June 30, the day before the abduction, phone records show the teen and Navarro had a conversation.

Her younger sister told deputies she saw headlights of a vehicle pull up and stop across the street from their grandmother’s home at around 10 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. on June 30, where the car remained for some time.

On the evening of her disappearance, the teen told Navarro she did not want to run away.

Teen: “Baby when you came did you see where all the cars are from our grandma’s house”
Teen: “Well there is a door where the kinda where the cars are parked and there is another  door on the others side and there isn’t a camera there.”
Teen: Baby I’m sorry but I can’t I’m not ready feel like I’m abandoning baby . . . and I can’t do that to them I’m sorry.”

Shortly after midnight on July 1, Navarro pressured the teen to run away.

Navarro: “You made me promises. Remember to leave with me. . . . what about making our baby.”
Navarro: “Juju (Julie Le) is upset and can’t believe we drove all this way to hear your excuses.”

At 12:33 a.m., Navarro tells the teen Le and he are headed to her grandmother’s house.

Navarro: “Juju is driving back to you wtf.”
Navarro: “Wow juju has your back.”
Teen: “I’m not gonna break the promise with you . . . I’m not gonna be so scared and I’m not gonna stay . . . I’ll go for real this time.”
Navarro: “We just got here . . . Run to the corner.”

The grandmother’s security camera caught the teen sneaking out the front door at 1 a.m.

The cousin told deputies the teen had bought an expensive dress and was counting down the days to her quinceañera, which “was so important to her.” She told deputies the teen had an online relationship with an older man who she knew as “Angel.”

Following the abduction, the grandmother located “Angel’s” contact information from the cousin. She then texted “Angel,” who replied he did not know where the teen was.

The teen kept her relationship and communications with Navarro a secret from her mother, her sister told deputies. The teen told her mother that he was a friend from her school in Arizona.

After serving subpoenas on social media and phone accounts, investigators determined Navarro and Le had taken the teen to Mexico.

On July 10, Navarro and Le cross the border into the United States from Mexico in Le’s car. Border Patrol agents detained the pair on outstanding arrest warrants issued by the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

Le told investigators they concealed the teen in the back seat of the car so she would not be detected when they crossed the border into Mexico. Le said they had taken the teen to Navarro’s father’s residence in Mexico, a claim Navarro admitted.

SLO County Sheriff detectives contacted Navarro’s ex-wife, with whom he shares custody of their two children. The ex-wife said Navarro and Le had picked up her children and taken them to his father’s home on July 8. The ex-wife shared videos taken of her children in Mexico, which included geolocation data.

Detectives then used Google Earth to locate the father’s home. Mexican law enforcement went to the residence on July 11, found the teen and took her into protective custody. Investigators then reunited the teen with her family.

Navarro and Le are in federal custody in Los Angeles, on a no bail hold. They are accused of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and conspiracy.

It is likely they will face additional charges.

Investigators determined Navarro and Le worked together to procure underage females for Navarro. In photos on her Instagram page, Le looks like a teen or a woman in early 20s.

In reviewing Navarro and Le’s social media accounts, investigators determined Navarro and Le exchanged screen shots of social media profiles associated with underage females. Navarro would then instruct Le to message the underage females, to inform them he was her friend.

Navarro targeted 14 to 15-year-old girls. He told another 15-year-old female that he wanted her to have his baby. He sent a picture of his penis to one teen, and asked multiple teens to send him nude photos.

In March 2022, Le sent Navarro images of money order receipts in her name. Officials are not disclosing what the money orders were for at this time.

A search of border crossing records revealed that Le and Navarro crossed the United States-Mexico border together on several occasions this year.

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Sadly, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Had this Teen been a foster child, no one would have cared or spent countless hours, man power, subsidized by law enforcement to go across the border or surveil cell records or interview out of state witnesses. Mainstream media does not report the thousand of missing foster children egregiously recruited by traffickers. This Teen was lucky she had a family who fought for her return. God bless those children who do not.

I have a huge worry there is a bigger story here….like how many other teens have Navarro and Le taken to Mexico and sex trafficked? I am glad this teen was found but wonder what long term affects this will have on her as I’m guessing she was sexually abused. This is so so scary and I worry about our youth falling prey to predators like Navarro and Le as social media is their normal and main form of communicating.

3 years probation, at most. And in the absence of parenting do you think the “teen” will have any other outcome going forward?