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Press Release

Pine City Man Pleads Guilty in Multi-Victim Child Exploitation and Child Pornography Scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – A Pine City man has pleaded guilty to five counts of producing, receiving, and distributing images of child pornography, and coercing and enticing minors to engage in illegal sexual activity, announced U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. 

According to his plea agreement and court documents, beginning in or about January 2019, Caleb Vincent McLaughlin, 26, created and used multiple social media accounts and communications applications to solicit and direct at least 14 minor girls between the ages of 11 and 16 years old in Minnesota, and a number of girls as yet to be identified in Minnesota, North Dakota, and elsewhere, to create sexually explicit images and videos to send to him. McLaughlin used a variety of aliases and Snapchat IDs including “Jake Benson,” “Lift11” or “Tech4cm,” in his scheme, and sometimes purported to be 17 years old to prey on minor girls he met online in order to entice and coerce them to create sexually explicit images and videos. In addition to producing child sexual abuse material, McLaughlin offered the minors drugs, alcohol, cash, and gift cards in exchange for sex acts.

On July 17, 2023, McLaughlin was charged in a federal criminal complaint with soliciting, producing, receiving, and distributing images of child pornography, and enticing a child to engage in illegal sexual activity. McLaughlin pleaded guilty today before Chief Judge Patrick J. Schlitz in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for February 13, 2024, at 9:00 a.m. 

Law enforcement officials are still working to identify and confirm the identity of many of the minor victims involved. If you believe you or your minor dependent(s) have been victimized by Caleb McLaughlin, please contact the FBI Tip Line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), 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 to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit 

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI, with substantial assistance from the St. Paul Police Department, Pine County Sheriff's Office, and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Hillary A. Taylor and Rachel L. Kraker are prosecuting the case.

Updated October 12, 2023

Project Safe Childhood