TRENTON, NJ – Three men have been charged with various sex offenses after attempting to have sexual contact with individuals they believed to be children they met online, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today.
Quentin Anthony Blount, 28, of Easton, Pennsylvania, Jesus Modesto Sanchez, 29, of New York City, and Ryan Lee, 35, of Trenton, New Jersey, are charged in separate complaints: Blount is charged with interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and attempted sex trafficking of a minor; Modesto Sanchez is charged with interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and possession of child pornography; and Lee is charged with attempted online enticement and attempted transfer of obscene materials to minors. Blount and Lee made their initial appearances by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III on Oct. 23, 2020, and were detained. Modesto Sanchez is expected to make his initial appearance later this week.
“Sexual crimes against children are among the most difficult cases we handle,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “I am proud my office is working hand in hand with our partners at the FBI and the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office to make sure these predators are identified and prosecuted with all the tools at our disposal.”
“Our children and their online safety is the utmost concern to us at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office,” Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson said. “Social media apps allow predators into our homes and as law enforcement, we must do what we can to make it a safer environment. We hope that this operation will continue to be eye-opening for parents. Although, 12 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within.”
“Children are our most vulnerable population, and crimes such as these are unthinkable,” Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr. of the FBI Newark Division said. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will stop at nothing to prevent these heinous crimes, safeguard our children, and bring justice to all.”
According to documents filed in these cases and statements made in court:
Special agents of the FBI and local law enforcement engaged in an operation targeting individuals who use the internet to exploit children. Blount, Modesto Sanchez and Lee were among several individuals identified and arrested.
On Oct. 15, 2020, Blount used an internet-based application to communicate with an individual who he believed was offering her 14-year-old daughter for sex in exchange for money. Unbeknownst to Blount, he was communicating with an undercover law enforcement officer. Blount travelled from Easton to a location in Somerset County, New Jersey, to meet with the mother and the minor. Upon his arrival, he provided a sum of cash to the undercover officer, who Blount believed was the child’s mother, and was arrested by law enforcement.
In mid-October 2020, Modesto Sanchez used an internet-based application to communicate with an undercover officer who Modesto Sanchez believed was a 13-year-old child. During the conversation, Modesto Sanchez offered to perform various sex acts. On Oct. 17, 2020, Modesto Sanchez travelled from New York to a location in Somerset County to meet with the child. Law enforcement identified Modesto Sanchez as he approached the location where he believed the minor to be, at which time he was arrested by law enforcement. A search of Modesto Sanchez’ cellular telephone revealed over 200 videos depicting the graphic sexual exploitation of children.
In mid-October 2020, Lee used an internet-based application to communicate with an undercover officer, who Lee believed was a 13-year-old child. During the conversations, which were sexual in nature, Lee repeatedly asked the individual who he believed was 13 to send him nude photographs, while also sending multiple photographs of his penis to the undercover officer. On Oct. 17, 2020, Lee travelled from Trenton to a location in Somerset County where he believed the minor was located. Law enforcement identified Lee as he approached the location and arrested him.
The charges of attempted sex trafficking of a minor and attempted online enticement each carry a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. The charge of interstate travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison. The charge of transferring obscene materials to a minor carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison. The charge of possession of child pornography carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Each count carries a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents with the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch Jr.; detectives with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and Chief John W. Fodor, and officers with the Somerville, Bound Brook, and Hillsborough Police Departments with the investigation leading to these charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Shawn Barnes of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations contained in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.