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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Chicago Man Charged with Coercion and Enticement of a Minor

BOSTON – A Chicago man has been charged in connection with using Snapchat to threaten and coerce a Massachusetts minor to engage in sexual conduct.

Ernesto Herrera, 33, of Chicago, Ill., was charged by an Information with coercion and enticement of a minor. Herrera was previously arrested and charged in June 2021 with one count of sexual exploitation of children and one count of receipt of child pornography. He has remained in custody.

“Mr. Herrera allegedly used social media to target, threaten and rob a child of their innocence,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Sexual predators who engage in this type of behavior, particularly with minors, will be prosecuted. We will aggressively pursue those who prey on the vulnerable and helpless.”

“Ernesto Herrera is accused of manipulating a 16-year-old girl into providing him with sexually explicit images of herself through a popular multimedia messaging app,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Sadly, online predators seeking to exploit children are becoming too common, and we urge parents and guardians to pay attention to what your children are doing online. Make it clear to them that they are not to blame if they fall victim to a predator and contact law enforcement right away if you suspect something is wrong. The FBI hopes today’s charges are a warning to others that we will be relentless in our pursuit of anyone who commits such heinous acts.”

According to the charging documents, in June 2020, Herrera allegedly threatened and coerced a Massachusetts minor via Snapchat and text message to make and send images of the victim engaged in sexual conduct, among other things. Herrera was identified as the owner of the Snapchat account used to contact the victim. A subsequent search of Herrera’s phone revealed over 1,000 media files were sent from the victim’s Snapchat account to Herrera’s Snapchat account. Several of those media files allegedly depicted child pornography.

The charge of coercion and enticement of a minor provides a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years and up to a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.

U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI SAC Bonavolonta and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chicago Division made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Mackenzie Duane of Rollins’ Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In 2006, the Department of Justice created Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the DOJ’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov/.

The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Component(s): 
Updated July 26, 2022