Yakima County man receives 15 years in federal prison after sexually soliciting minors on 'Fortnite'

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Jul. 29—A 21-year-old Grandview, Washington, man was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison Thursday after pleading guilty to child pornography charges stemming from communications on the popular video game "Fortnite."

Juan Carlos Sandoval-Guerrero pleaded guilty earlier this year to two charges of production of child pornography. A mother alerted federal authorities to contact between her two sons, ages 9 and 11, with an adult named "Juan" in November 2019. The boys said they had sent sexually explicit images to Juan in exchange for the purchase of items in the online video game. When the mother called Juan on the 11-year-old's phone, Sandoval-Guerrero answered, according to court records, claiming to be Juan's 32-year-old father.

Authorities searched Sandoval-Guerrero's home and recovered two phones with explicit images on them, according to court records.

U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Mendoza handed down the sentence Thursday in a Richland courtroom. The 15-year sentence is the mandatory minimum required by law. Mendoza also ordered Sandoval-Guerrero to pay $53,040 in restitution to his victims and must remain supervised for life after release from prison.

Sandoval-Guerrero's attorneys argued the 21-year-old had experienced childhood trauma, with a father deported to Mexico when he was young.

Sandoval-Guerrero was listed in custody of the Benton County Jail on Thursday.

The case was investigated as part of the Justice Department's Project Safe Childhood, according to a news release from the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Eastern Washington. The initiative was launched in 2006 to combat sexual exploitation of children.

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