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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 22, 2021

Springfield Man Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison for Attempted Enticement of a Minor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A Springfield, Illinois, man, Rafael Mercado Berrios, 42, of the 700 block of South Durkin Drive, was sentenced to ten years in prison, to be followed by ten years of supervised release, on October 20, 2021, for attempted enticement of a minor and use of interstate facilities to attempt to transmit information about a minor.

Mercado Berrios was convicted in June 2021 following a jury trial in which the United States presented evidence establishing that Mercado Berrios had used a mobile application to arrange to meet a person he believed to be a 15-year-old minor for sexual activity.

At Mercado Berrios’s sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Sue E. Myerscough found that he had also attempted to obstruct justice by requesting that a former girlfriend delete information from his computer and directing her not to speak to law enforcement agencies, as well as telling her what to say if she did choose to speak.

The statutory penalty for attempted enticement of a minor is ten years to life imprisonment. The statutory penalty for use of interstate facilities to attempt to transmit information about a minor is not more than five years imprisonment. Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000.

The prosecution was the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Springfield Office, with the assistance of the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations; the Springfield Police Department; and the Illinois State Police. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tanner K. Jacobs and Gregory K. Harris represented the government in the prosecution.

The case against Mercado Berrios was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a Department of Justice initiative led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

Updated October 22, 2021