Chicago Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Coercion and Enticement of a Minor
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
BOSTON – A Chicago man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for threatening and coercing a Massachusetts minor to engage in sexual conduct.
Ernesto Herrera, 33, of Chicago, Ill., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to 12 years in prison and five years of supervised release. In August 2022, Herrera pleaded guilty to one count of coercion and enticement of a minor.
“Mr. Herrera preyed on the vulnerability of a young, innocent child to manipulate and exploit her for his own sexual gratification. He threatened and blackmailed the victim into sending and giving him access to abusive sexual imagery of herself. Like many others, Mr. Herrera was wrong to think he could hide behind the anonymity of the internet. This case is another example that online predators will be identified and held accountable,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “I commend the victim for her bravery in providing information to law enforcement – her courage ensured that Mr. Herrera was held accountable and likely spared countless other minors from being victimized. My office remains unwavering in our commitment to protecting the safety, innocence and wellbeing of our children and removing individuals who seek them harm from our communities.”
“Ernesto Herrera is a sexual predator who went to great lengths to conceal his identity when he manipulated a 16-year-old girl into providing him with sexually explicit images of herself. No sentence can undo the devastating harm he inflicted on his victim, but this courageous teen stood up, came forward, and ensured this man will no longer be in a position to harm others for quite some time,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “We commend her for exhibiting great courage throughout our investigation and prosecution of this case, and rest assured, we will continue our aggressive pursuit to hold others like him accountable.”
In June 2020, Herrera reached out to the minor victim from an anonymous phone number using a messaging application. Herrera demanded that the victim send images and videos of herself engaged in sexual conduct, among other things. Herrera threatened the victim that if she did not comply with his requests, videos of the victim would be leaked to her friends and the internet. Herrera also accessed the victim’s Snapchat account and, from June 2020 through January 2021, sent over one thousand images and videos of the victim to his Snapchat account. Several of these files depicted child sexual abuse material.
In June 2021, during a search of Herrera’s residence in Chicago, he admitted to contacting the minor using a text messaging service and acknowledged that he knew the victim was being blackmailed by other people at the time that he communicated with her. Herrera confirmed that he received images of the victim engaged in sexual conduct, among other things. Herrera also admitted to creating various Snapchat usernames and email addresses to communicate with and request nude images from other minor females, and that he had threatened at least two other minors via Snapchat to send him explicit images.
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 prosecuted 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.justice.gov/psc.
Updated February 27, 2023
Project Safe Childhood