Man Sentenced to 55 Years in Prison for Sexual Exploitation of Multiple Children Through Social Media Apps
A California man was sentenced today to 55 years in prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for sexual exploitation of a minor and distribution of child pornography.
Jacob Blanco, 29, of Fresno, pleaded guilty in May 2020 to sexual exploitation of a minor and receipt and distribution of material involving sexual exploitation of minors. According to court documents, Blanco’s activities were discovered in March 2017 when the parents of a then six-year-old discovered the child had communicated with and created sexually explicit images at the request of another user on the social media application Musical.ly (now TikTok). Law enforcement investigators subsequently identified the offender as Blanco.
Investigators thereafter searched Blanco’s residence and digital devices and discovered that he had successfully persuaded and coerced multiple minors to produce sexually explicit material. Blanco used various methods of deception and enticement, including by pretending to be a modeling agent or to be a minor himself. Blanco used Snapchat, Kik, Musical.ly and other applications to communicate with minor females for the purpose of having those minors create and transmit to him images of themselves engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Blanco admitted, as part of his plea agreement, that he communicated with at least 50 minors and asked for and received sexually explicit images from many of them.
“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.”
“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.”
“The abuse and exploitation of children is deeply cruel, violating the trust and safety of victims, which generates trauma that may never fully heal. We hope today’s sentence provides some measure of justice to those he harmed,” said Special Agent in Charge Tatum King of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “HSI stands ready with its local, state and federal partners to bring a network of resources and its international law enforcement capabilities to bare against those who seek to exploit our most vulnerable. HSI appreciates the dedicated work of its special agents, computer forensics agents, criminal analysts, victim witness coordinators and forensic interviewers, together with the investigative and prosecutorial teams of our law enforcement partners, who are unwavering in their commitment to pursue these predators.”
HSI investigated the case, with valuable assistance provided by the Fresno County Sherriff’s Office and the Fresno Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Gappa of the Eastern District of California and Trial Attorney Nadia C. Prinz of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) prosecuted the case.
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 epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc. Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet-safety education.