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Press Release

Former Coach from Pecos Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Sextortion Scheme

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

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office, announced that Joshua Rico was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Rico, 27, of Pecos, New Mexico, pleaded guilty on Dec. 22, 2022, to five counts of coercion and enticement of minors.

A federal grand jury indicted Rico on May 12, 2021. According to court documents, beginning as early as January 2018, Rico used multiple profiles on the social media platform Snapchat to coerce female high school students, some of which he was familiar with from his job as the assistant basketball coach at a local high school, into sending him sexually explicit photos and videos and engage in sexual acts. Rico used fictitious profiles under the names “Chris Lujan” and “Erik Romero” as well as a profile in his own name to threaten, coerce and manipulate at least four victims who were between 14 and 16 years old.

In each case, Rico used one or both of his fake profiles to persuade the victims into sending compromising photos, then used the threat of exposing the photos to coerce the victims into engaging in sexual acts and sending him videos of the acts. In two instances, after using a fake profile to demand that the victims engage in sexual acts and provide videos, he offered to “help” the victims by allowing them to perform the sexual act with him. Rico coerced at least one of the victims into engaging in sexual acts with him.

Rico’s scheme continued unchecked for nearly three years until one of the victims pieced together that Rico and “Erik” were the same person and reported the conduct to her school and the New Mexico State Police. Through diligent investigation, law enforcement was able to confirm that Rico was also “Chris Lujan” and “Erik Romero.”

“This case highlights the importance and benefit of law enforcement partnerships and task forces. Each agency played a vital role in developing a comprehensive case for prosecutors,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda. “The successful multi-agency investigation and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office will keep a dangerous predator out of the school system and will prevent him from targeting additional minors.”

“Our mission is clear: to protect the innocent, to uphold the rule of law, and to ensure that those who engage in such malicious activities face the consequences of their actions,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez. “Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to safeguard our children, schools, neighborhoods, and communities. We call upon everyone to be vigilant regarding the online activity of our children and report any suspicious or concerning conduct. The safety of our children is a shared responsibility, and we must work hand-in-hand to maintain their wellbeing – whether at school, in the community, or on the internet. This sentence should send a message to would-be predators, especially those who work in positions of trust with children, that sextortion is a heinous crime that will be punished with decades in prison.”

Upon his release from prison, Rico will be required to register as a sex offender and serve a 20-year term of supervised release.

The New Mexico State Police, the FBI, and the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory investigated this case as part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program is a nation-wide network of task forces including over 90 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in New Mexico dedicated to investigating, prosecuting and developing effective responses to Internet crimes against children.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Mease and Jaymie L. Roybal are prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, 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

For more information on sextortion and how to get help, visit the FBI website.

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Updated July 28, 2023

Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 23-163