FRESNO (CBS SF) — A Fresno man pleaded guilty to child sexual exploitation and child pornography in federal court Friday, three years after first being discovered targeting young girls with computer and mobile apps.

Jacob Blanco, 28, pleaded guilty today to five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of California McGregor W. Scott announced Friday.

Blanco’s activities were discovered in March 2017 when the parents of a then six-year-old discovered she had sent sexually explicit images of herself at the request of another user on the social media app Musical.ly (now TikTok). Investigators identified the other user as Blanco.

A search of Blanco’s home and digital devices showed he had persuaded a number of young girls to produce sexually explicit material, using various methods including pretending to be a minor himself or claiming he was a modeling agent.

According to the plea agreement, Blanco used Snapchat, Kik, Musical.ly and other apps to communicate with girls to have them create and send sexually explicit pictures of themselves to him. Blanco admitted as part of his plea agreement that he communicated with at least 50 minors.

Blanco was scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 9 and faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of 30 years in prison for each sexual exploitation count, and 5–20 years in prison for the distribution of child pornography count. Each count could also incur a potential $250,000 fine and Blanco is to have lifetime supervised release.

The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.

The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, with help from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno Police Department along with law enforcement agencies in various states. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

 

 

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