A 28-year-old man from Fresno pleaded guilty on Friday to five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and admitted exploiting at least 50 minors on social media platforms. He also pled to one count of receipt and distribution of child pornography.
Jacob Blanco, who had been indicted in 2017 on six counts, pled guilty to soliciting and persuading minor girls under the age of twelve to make and share sexually explicit content featuring themselves on social media applications such as Snapchat and Musical.ly.
Coercion and Persuasion
Blanco's unlawful actions came to light in March 2017. The parents of a minor, who was six-years-old at the time, found that through the social media application Musical.ly, which is now known as TikTok, the minor had been in communication with another. The minor had shared sexually explicit material with the user at their request.
The authorities eventually tracked the offender down—Blanco. Upon searching his residence, investigators unearthed digital devices that Blanco used for his sexually predatory acts. During the search, law enforcement officials also discovered that he had coerced and persuaded several minors to share sexually explicit content.
Among the methods used by Blanco to entice and deceive the minors he targeted was pretending to be a minor himself or a modeling agent. In order to communicate with minors, the Fresno resident used applications such as Kik, Musical.ly (TikTok), and Snapchat, among others. He persuaded minor girls to produce and exchange pictures of themselves where they performed sexually explicit acts, court documents stated.
During the investigation that was a collaborative effort between several law enforcement agencies, it was learned that the real number of minors targeted by Blanco was more than what could have been anticipated. As a part of his plea agreement, he confessed that he had spoken to nearly 50 minors.
Facing A Long Time In Prison
Blanco's hearing is set for October 9. A mandatory sentence of 15 years in prison is what he faces, to begin with. In addition to this, he also faces a prison term of a maximum of 30 years for every count of sexual exploitation. Along with this he also could face up to five to 20 years in jail for the count of distribution of pornography.
With the long prison sentences that he faces, Blanco could also be fined $250,000 and put under lifetime release after release. Other statutory factors and Federal Sentencing Guidelines will play a key role in his final sentencing.