A 29-year-old California man was sentenced to 55 years in prison and a lifetime of supervised release after he convinced children to send him sexually explicit images over social media.
Jacob Blanco of Fresno initially pleaded guilty in May 2020 to five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography. He also admitted to the police as part of his plea agreement that he communicated with at least 50 underage children and received sexual images from many of them.
“Today’s sentence is warranted due to the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct, the large number of minor victims, and the impact that the defendant’s conduct has had – and will continue to have – on the dozens of children victimized by the defendant,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “The fact that the defendant used social media to sexually exploit the victims serves as a reminder that the internet can be a dangerous place especially for children.”
Blanco was first arrested in 2017 when the parents of a then 6-year-old discovered that their child had been communicating with a user over the social media application Musical.ly, now known as TikTok, and created sexual images at the user’s request. Law enforcement identified the offender as Blanco, according to court documents.
After learning of his activities, investigators were able to search Blanco’s residence and digital devices. They learned that the man had persuaded and coerced numerous children to produce sexually explicit material.
According to court documents, Blanco used methods of deception and enticement to lure his victims which included pretending to be a modeling agent or to be a minor himself. He also relied on social media apps like Snapchat and communication services like Kik and others to communicate with underage girls to receive sexually explicit content they created for him.
“The defendant used an array of social media to target and manipulate young children,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “I commend the investigative and prosecution teams for their success in removing a dangerous child predator from the community. While no amount of jail time can undo the pain caused in this case, I hope today’s sentence brings a sense of justice and healing to those harmed by the defendant’s crimes.”
Homeland Security Investigations managed the case along with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno Police Department. It was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Childhood—a nationwide initiative started in May 2006 to address child sexual exploitation and abuse.
When Blanco entered his guilty plea, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said that he faced at least 15 years in prison for each incident of sexual exploitation and between five to 20 years for distributing child pornography.
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