An unemployed 19-year-old man who lives with his mother in Southern California has pleaded not guilty to charges he used extortion techniques to obtain explicit photos and videos from underage girls he met through social media.
The 151-count criminal complaint alleges Cesar Mauricio Estrada-Davila of Pico Rivera victimized 21 girls in eight states. The victims were all under 18 years of age, and some as young as 12 years old, according to Lt. Andrew Meyer of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Special Victims Bureau, which handled the investigation.
"He would ask the girls if they wanted to be 'Facebook famous,'" Lt. Meyer said. "And if they did, they would have to send him photographs.
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Once he received inappropriate photos, Estrada-Davila allegedly blackmailed the girls to send more explicit photos and videos, under threat of posting the earlier images so they would be seen by family or friends. Sexual acts were depicted in some of the videos the victims were pressured to provide, according to Meyer.
The alleged extortion occurred during the first four months of this year, according to the complaint. Investigators learned of it when one victim in the Antelope Valley told her father, and together they went to the Sheriff's Department, according to Meyer. During the ensuing investigation, detectives examined more than 26,000 Facebook pages, he said.
A month ago, investigators served a search warrant at the apartment on Rosemead Boulevard where Estrada-Davila lived with his mother and siblings. He was arrested Wednesday and brought to court Friday.
"He's a good boy," said a woman who answered the door, speaking in Spanish, at the family's apartment Friday night. Identifying herself as Estrada-Davila's mother, she said the girls with whom her son communicated told him "they were older."
Lawyers for the prosecution and defense did not speak to media at court on Friday.
Estrada-Davila remains in custody and is due back in court next month. If convicted on all counts, the combined terms could put him in prison for the rest of his life.