Bay Point Man Sentenced To Over 17 Years In Prison For Production Of Child Pornography
OAKLAND - Sergio Luiz Cruz Esparza was sentenced today to 210 months in prison for producing child pornography, announced Acting United States Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. The sentence was handed down by the Hon. Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Judge.
Cruz Esparza, 23, of Bay Point, pleaded guilty to the charge today and was sentenced during the same proceeding. According to the guilty plea, Cruz Esparza admitted that during 2019 and 2020, when he was 20 or 21 years old, he used social media applications, including Snapchat, to communicate with female minors for the purpose of requesting or persuading the minors to meet him in person and have sexual contact. Cruz Esparza admitted he told the minors he was younger than his real age. The plea agreement describes Cruz Esparza’s encounter with a 15-year-old in June of 2019. In the plea agreement, Cruz Esparza acknowledged how he initiated contact with the 15-year old on Snapchat, told the girl he was 17 years old, and sent the teenage girl images depicting sexually explicit conduct involving minors. Cruz Esparza arranged to meet this teenage minor in June 2019. During the meeting, Cruz Esparza molested her; and, using his telephone, created digital images as the intercourse occurred. Further, according to his guilty plea, Cruz Esparza sent images in March of 2020 to another user of a social media application of sexually explicit conduct by a minor female.
According to the sentencing memorandum filed by the government, during 2019-2020, Cruz Esparza enticed thirteen minor victims to send him images depicting sexually explicit conduct using social media platforms, and he had sexual contact with five of the victims, including sexual intercourse with four of them.
On December 14, 2020, the United States filed a three-count Superseding Information charging Cruz Esparza with one count each of distribution of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) and (b)(1); coercion and enticement of a minor, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b); and production of child pornography, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2251(a). Cruz Esparza pleaded guilty to the production count; the other two counts were dismissed.
In addition to the prison term, Judge Gonzalez Rogers ordered a 10-year term of supervised release and set a restitution hearing for February 9, 2022. Cruz Esparza is in custody and will begin serving his prison term immediately.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan U. Lee is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Jessica Gonzalez Rodriguez and Kathleen Turner. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.