A Chicago man blackmailed a 16-year-old girl from Massachusetts into performing a video of sex acts with her dog using Snapchat, court records show

A Chicago man has been accused of using Snapchat to ‘blackmail’ a 16-year-old Massachusetts girl into filming and photographing explicit images of herself and sharing them with him, including indulging to sexual activity with his dog, according to court documents.

Ernesto Herrera, 33, of Chicago, Illinois, was charged with coercion and incitement of a minor. Herrera had previously been arrested and charged in June 2021 with one count of child sexual exploitation and one count of receiving child pornography. He has remained in custody since then, according to the US Attorney in Massachusetts.

“Mr. Herrera allegedly used social media to target, threaten and rob a child of his or her innocence,” said U.S. Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Sexual predators who engage in this type of behavior, especially with minors , will be prosecuted. We will aggressively pursue those who prey on the vulnerable and helpless.”

The charging documents allege that Herrera made contact with the minor in June 2020 and threatened and coerced her on Snapchat and via text message to create and send over 1,000 images of herself engaging in sexual conduct. Several of those media files allegedly depicted child pornography, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Investigators identified Herrera as the owner of the Snapchat account and the phone number used to contact the victim. Herrara allegedly used a texting and toll-free company called Pinger to spoof his number, which investigators traced to him in a subpoena. A subsequent search of Herrera’s phone revealed that the media files had been sent from the victim’s Snapchat account to Herrera’s Snapchat account.

Herrera allegedly first contacted the girl on June 4, 2020 via Snapchat, according to a criminal complaint filed in the US District Court in Massachusetts. After the teen accepted Herrera’s friend request, prosecutors said Herrera sent the girl a video that showed her performing sex acts with her dog and Herrera allegedly threatened to kill him. exposing and sharing the explicit videos with her friends and family if she didn’t produce more. videos of herself for him.

Herrera allegedly texted the girl on June 4 asking her to send “the new videos,” according to a criminal complaint.

“What new videos? I don’t know who it is,” replied the teenager.

The two men exchanged more than 60 text messages that day, most from a number of investigators later linked to Herrera where he demanded explicit content and threatened to expose her if she did not comply.

“Send the videos you have with your dog waiting,” Herrera allegedly sent the girl. “I hate to wait c— I don’t know what you don’t understand.”

The girl told Herrera that she was at work and “didn’t have any nudes on that phone.” She also texted back, “I’m 16,” but that didn’t deter Herrera.

“Your videos are going to be leaked to your friends and the internet,” Herrera allegedly sent the girl.

The girl had the number linked to Herrera saved in her phone as “blackmailer [followed by four emojis]“, according to the criminal complaint.

The charge of coercion and incitement of a minor carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison, at least five years and up to life on probation and a fine of up to at $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on US sentencing guidelines and the laws that govern sentencing in a criminal case.

“Ernesto Herrera is accused of manipulating a 16-year-old girl into providing her with sexually explicit images of herself via a popular multimedia messaging application,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the division. from the FBI in Boston. “Unfortunately, online predators seeking to exploit children are becoming all too common, and we urge parents and guardians to pay attention to what your children are doing online. Make it clear to them that they are not responsible if they are victims of a predator and contact law enforcement immediately if you suspect something is wrong. The FBI hopes today’s charges are a warning to others that we will be relentless in our pursuit of anyone who commits such heinous acts.

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