RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A resident of the Riverside County city of Eastvale was arrested Thursday by federal authorities on charges of producing child pornography after allegedly using Snapchat to contact a 13-year-old boy in Illinois and enticing him to send a sexually explicit video.
Francisco Javier Soledad, 24, was arrested by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Soledad is expected to make his initial appearance Thursday afternoon in U.S. District Court.
According to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday, Soledad assumed the persona of a young person – first a 13-year-old boy, and then an adult woman – to convince the victim to send an explicit video. When the victim then blocked Soledad on Snapchat, Soledad allegedly threatened to publish the video on a social media platform unless the victim sent additional videos.
After the victims’ parents contacted law enforcement, HSI special agents conducted a search of Soledad’s residence. During an interview with authorities, Soledad admitted sending threatening communications to the victim and victimizing other children in a similar fashion, according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint. After a review of Soledad’s digital devices, HSI special agents uncovered evidence of five additional victims between the ages of 12 and 15 living in Illinois, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee and California. In each instance, Soledad had coerced the children to produce sexually explicit images and videos.
“As this case dramatically demonstrates, child pornography is not a victimless crime,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “This crime has unimaginable and devastating impacts on young victims, and the market for these images only encourages additional exploitation.”
A search of Soledad’s digital devices revealed more than 5,000 images and videos of suspected child pornography. The majority of the child pornography images appear to have been self-produced by the depicted victims. Law enforcement has not yet identified all of the victimized children.
Anyone with information about Soledad – or his Snapchat handle, “linkinparkrocks” – is encouraged to call HSI’s toll-free tip line 1-866-2DHS-ICE or 1-866-234-7423
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
If he is convicted of the charge of producing child pornography, Soledad would face a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in federal prison and he could be sentenced to as much as 30 years.
This case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Teresa K.B. Beecham.