Thomas Frank White, a convicted pedophile from San Francisco, died at the age of 78 at a Puerto Vallarta hospital on Tuesday morning.
White was serving a sentence for child abuse, rape and drugs charges at a prison in Puerto Vallarta. He had been suffering from multiple illnesses and when his condition worsened he was taken for treatment at a private hospital, where he died at 8:25 a.m., Jalisco authorities said.
A millionaire stockbroker, White moved to Vallarta in 1990, where he established a philanthropic organization as a front for a child prostitution ring. White opened two properties, the Casa Blanca, purportedly a shelter for street children, and the Hotel Iguana, where he manufactured child pornography and hosted sex tourists from the United States.
“We had sex, but we never knew he was recording us, we even had relationships with several Gringos who were with Thomas,” one of White’s victims once testified. The victim also alleged that White sometimes threatened his victims with firearms and on other occasions gave them cash, alcohol and drugs such as marijuana and cocaine in return for engaging in sexual acts with him and others.
Scores of allegations began to emerge against White in the late 1990s, but – according to Spanish-language daily Milenio – White sought to use his substantial fortune to buy the silence of the children, who were mostly homeless and lived in extreme poverty. Over 150 alleged cases of child sex abuse eventually resulted in just 14 formal complaints, from boys aged 10 to 17.
After several years of investigation by a non-governmental human rights organization, the Jalisco Attorney General’s Office issued a warrant for White’s arrest on charges of child pornography and drug trafficking in 2001, while the FBI issued another warrant in July 2002 relating to two child abuse allegations against White in the United States.
White fled to Thailand upon learning of the charges against him, but was arrested by Interpol at a hotel in Bangkok on February 13, 2003. He was then extradited to Jalisco, where he was convicted on July 31, 2005.
White has always denied the charges against him and claimed he was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy. He maintained that he was targeted by a group of professional extortionists who used underage boys to make false accusations against him and demanded millions of dollars in return for dropping the charges.