California Couple Sentenced to Prison Terms on Federal Child Exploitation Charges
WASHINGTON – Jorge Castillo, 37, and his girlfriend, Katherine Briones, 43, both of Inglewood, Calif., were sentenced today to prison terms of 25 years and 15 years, respectively, after earlier pleading guilty in the District of Columbia to child exploitation charges.
The announcement was made by U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nicola T. Hanna, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), and Veronica Allende, Director of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice.
Both defendants pled guilty on Dec. 18, 2017, to charges of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal activity and production of child pornography. They were sentenced by the Honorable Trevor N. McFadden of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Following their prison terms, the defendants must register as sex offenders for a period of 25 years. Castillo also will be placed on supervised release for the rest of his life, and Briones will be placed on supervised release for seven years. Briones also was ordered to pay $5,000 to a fund for the victims of sex trafficking.
Castillo is facing pending state charges in New Jersey of first-degree conspiracy to commit child trafficking and second-degree distribution of child pornography.
According to the government's evidence, on March 13, 2017, Castillo contacted an undercover officer with the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, through a social network site. Castillo and Briones then continued communications with this undercover officer over the next few weeks, attempting to set up a meeting with an underage girl. During the course of the communications, Castillo also referenced a person on the East Coast who he believed had a similar interest in children; unbeknownst to Castillo, that person was an undercover detective with the New Jersey State Police, who claimed to have access to an underage girl.
Castillo and Briones arranged to have the two girls transported to Los Angeles for the purpose of engaging in sexual acts with them. The defendants planned to provide a hotel room for the purported girls and the two undercover officers. On the day this meeting was to take place – April 4, 2017 - both defendants were arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport. In a search of their cellular telephones, authorities found images of child pornography.
Castillo and Briones have been in custody since their arrests.
This case was brought as part of the Department of Justice's Project Safe Childhood initiative and investigated by the FBI's Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which includes members of the FBI's Washington Field Office and MPD. In February 2006, the Attorney General created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney's Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
This case was initiated and investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force, which is composed of FBI Agents, along with Detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department, Fairfax County, Va., Police, Arlington County Va., Police, Prince William County Va., Police, Alexandria Va., Police, Loudoun County, Va. Sheriff’s Department, Leesburg, Va., Police Department, the U.S. Marshals Service. Additional assistance in this case was provided by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police, the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security - Homeland Security Investigations, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea L. Hertzfeld, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, with assistance from Criminal Investigator John Marsh. Assistance also was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.