Fresno Man Admits Sexual Exploitation of at Least 50 Children Through Multiple Social Media Apps
FRESNO, Calif. — Jacob Blanco, 28, of Fresno, pleaded guilty today to five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to the plea agreement, Blanco’s activities were discovered in March 2017 when the parents of a then six-year-old discovered that the minor 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 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 (TikTok), 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 to law enforcement investigators, and as part of his plea agreement, that he communicated with at least 50 minors.
This investigation is the product of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) with assistance from the Fresno County Sherriff’s Office and the Fresno County Police Department along with numerous law enforcement agencies in various states. Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Gappa and Trial Attorney Nadia C. Prinz of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) are prosecuting the case.
Sentencing is set for Oct. 9 before U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd. Blanco 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. For all counts there is a potential $250,000 fine and 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.
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. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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.