(STL.News) – A Fresno, California, man pleaded guilty to production of child pornography today.
Jacob Blanco, 28, pleaded guilty to five counts of production of child pornography, as well as one count of receipt of child pornography, before U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Drozd. Sentencing is set for Oct. 9, 2020.
According to admissions made in connection with his guilty plea, the defendant’s activities initially came to light in or about March of 2017, when the parents of a then six-year-old discovered that the minor had communicated with and created sexually explicit images at the request of another user on the social media application Musical.ly (now TikTok). Law enforcement investigators subsequently identified this user as Jacob Blanco.
A search of the defendant’s digital media revealed that he had successfully persuaded and coerced multiple minors to produce sexually explicit material. Blanco accomplished this by using various methods of deception and enticement, including by pretending to be a modeling agent or to be a minor himself. Blanco used Snapchat, Kik, Musical.ly and other applications to communicate with minors for the purpose of having those minors create and transmit to him images of those minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. In his interview with law enforcement, Blanco admitted that he communicated with at least 50 minors, an admission confirmed by the communications and images stored on his digital media.
The investigation was conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Fresno, with assistance from the Fresno County Sherriff’s Office and the Fresno County Police Department. Trial Attorney Nadia C. Prinz of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) and Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Gappa of the Eastern District of California prosecuted the case.
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. Attorneys’ Offices and 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.