FRESNO – In a recent development, a resident of Fresno has admitted to his attempted coercion and enticement of a minor.
Christopher Contreras, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted coercion of a minor and one count of enticement of a minor on Nov. 27, as announced by U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert. His sentencing is scheduled for April 1, 2024, and the potential penalties are severe, including the possibility of life in prison and lifelong supervised release for each of the two counts.
However, the final sentence will be at the discretion of the court, taking into account various factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which consider a range of variables.
According to court records, Contreras’ offenses span back to 2020. He used messaging apps like Skout and Snapchat as well as text messages to engage in explicit conversations for about a week with someone he believed to be a 13-year-old girl. He even traveled to a location in Fresno on July 31, 2020, with the intention of meeting this supposed minor for sexual activity.
Little did he know, Contreras was actually communicating with undercover law enforcement officers. As a result, Contreras was arrested and placed in Fresno County Jail for a brief period on bail.
Things took another turn on Oct. 13, 2020, when law enforcement responded to a report of a missing juvenile. After an investigation, it was revealed that Contreras had picked up the juvenile at a Fresno location, having made arrangements through messages on the Meet Me app.
Subsequently, he faced numerous felony violations of California law and was once again booked into Fresno County Jail. Later on, federal charges were filed against him, and he has been in federal custody since June 10, 2021.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, with specific involvement from Homeland Security Investigations, along with support from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno Police Department. The prosecution is being led by Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Gappa.
It’s worth highlighting that this case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to address the alarming issue 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 brings together federal, state and local resources to locate, apprehend and prosecute those who sexually exploit children and to identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.usdoj.gov/psc, where the “resources” tab can be selected for information about internet-safety education.