Spokane – Joseph H. Harrington, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced Juan Carlos Sandoval-Guerrero, age 21, a citizen of Mexico, was sentenced today, after pleading guilty to production and attempted production of child pornography, on April 1, 2021. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza, Jr. sentenced Sandoval-Guerrero to a 15-year term of imprisonment, to be followed by a lifetime term of court supervision after he is released from federal prison. Sandoval-Guerrero was also ordered to pay $53,040.00 in restitution to his victims.
According to information disclosed during court proceedings, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) began investigating Sandoval-Guerrero after law enforcement received a complaint from a concerned local mother. The mother expressed concern regarding interactions her nine-and eleven-year-old sons were having with a person she believed to be an adult over Xbox.
Through further investigation, HSI determined that Sandoval-Guerrero had been using Xbox to encourage the boys to engage in sexually-explicit activities, to video and photograph those activities, and send the images to him. Sandoval-Guerrero also communicated with the eleven-year-old boy via an application called TextNow.
On February 6, 2020, HSI executed a warrant to search Sandoval-Guerrero’s Grandview, Washington, residence, and seized numerous electronic devices that contained images of child pornography involving the boys. Officers transported Sandoval-Guerrero to the Grandview Police Department where he was interviewed. Sandoval-Guerrero admitted contacting the boys through the video game “Fortnite.” Sandoval-Guerrero also admitted that he requested and directed the boys to produce sexually-explicit images and videos.
At sentencing Judge Mendoza said “This is a very serious offense. The effects of the offense are not limited to those instances, those moments with the children. The brain of a 9, 11-year old is just developing. It has severe life-long impacts – what happens to them at that age. Impacts that you caused. You did it.”
Acting United States Attorney Harrington said, “The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington, in collaboration with its federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement partners, uses every resource and tool available to investigate and prosecute aggressively those involved in child exploitation. This Office will continue to do all we can to protect vulnerable child victims of these horrible crimes.”
This case was pursued as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the United States Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals, who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. The Project Safe Childhood Initiative (“PSC”) has five major components:
· Integrated federal, state, and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child exploitation cases, and to identify and rescue children;
· Participation of PSC partners in coordinated national initiatives;
· Increased federal enforcement in child pornography and enticement cases;
· Training of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents; and
· Community awareness and educational programs.
This case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, the Benton County Sheriff’s Office, and the Southeast Regional ICAC. This case was prosecuted by Alison Gregoire and Brian Donovan, Assistant United States Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.