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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, January 24, 2020

Man Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison for Orchestrating Snapchat Sextortion Ring that Targeted Children

U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan for the Southern District of Florida, Special Agent in Charge George L. Piro of the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Chief W. Howard Harrison of the Planation Police Department, and Chief Dale Engle of the Davie Police Department, announced that Joseph Isaiah Woodson, Jr., 30, of Ashburn, Virginia, was sentenced yesterday to a total of 600 months in federal prison and a lifetime of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Jose E. Martinez, after having been convicted at trial of using the internet to target and extort children through sexual exploitation (“sextortion”) and pornographic offenses.

On September 27, 2019, Woodson, Jr. was convicted at trial on three counts of Production of Child Pornography, one count of Distribution of Child Pornography, one count of Sending Extortionate Threats, and one count of Conspiracy. 

According to the evidence presented at trial, beginning in October 2017 through September 2018, Woodson. Jr. persuaded, induced, enticed and coerced numerous minor female children across the country to engage in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of that conduct using the camera on their cellular telephones. Woodson, Jr. infiltrated the Snapchat accounts of these children by pretending to be one of their friends on social media.  Once given the passwords, Woodson, Jr. took over the victims’ Snapchat accounts and demanded the children send him sexually explicit videos and images of themselves using the web based texting application “KIK” in order to get back and regain control of their accounts.  Woodson, Jr. conspired with others to systematically extort and exploit children using the internet.

“Child predators beware - anyone who uses social media and the internet to target and extort children through sexual exploitation (“sextortion”) and pornographic offenses risks spending the rest of their lives in prison,” stated U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan.  “We implore the community to help us protect our loved ones by monitoring our children’s social media accounts and reporting all suspected offenses to law enforcement. The U.S. Attorney’s Office stands united with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners to root out child exploitation.”

“Joseph Isaiah Woodson, Jr. is a menace who preyed on the most vulnerable among us, children,” said George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami.  “Using social media, Woodson would befriend, then coerce numerous minor female victims to send him sexually explicit videos and images.  His sentence of 50 years in prison should serve as a warning to others involved in sextortion.  Rooting out this type of crime is a cooperative effort.  I commend the hard work and professionalism of our partners including; Davie Police Department, Plantation Police Department, Coral Springs Police Department, Fairfax City Police Department, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and FBI Miami’s Child Exploitation Task Force.”

“It is through partnerships such as this, that we are able to extend the arm of law enforcement to ensure predators such as Joseph Isaiah Woodson, Jr. are no longer a threat to our children,” stated Davie Police Chief Dale Engle. “We are grateful here at the Davie Police Department that the resources needed were made available to see this case through to a conclusion.”

U.S. Attorney Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of FBI Miami’s Child Exploitation Task Force, in partnership with the Davie Police Department and Plantation Police Department. Coral Springs Police Department, Fairfax City Police Department, FBI Dallas, FBI Indianapolis, FBI Operation Rescue Me, FBI Technical Analysis Unit, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations, Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command all assisted with the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jodi L. Anton and Francis Viamontes.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Updated January 24, 2020