The following press release was issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the District of New Mexico on Tuesday, December 27, 2022.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced that Joshua Rico pleaded guilty on Dec. 22 to five counts of coercion and enticement of minors. Rico, 26, of Pecos, New Mexico, will remain in custody pending sentencing, which has not been scheduled.
Beginning as early as January 2018, Rico used multiple profiles on the social media platform Snapchat to coerce minor girls into sending him sexually explicit photos and videos and engage in sexual acts. Rico used fictitious profiles under the names “Chris Lujan” and “Erik Romero” as well as a profile in his own name to threaten, coerce and manipulate at least four victims who were between 14 and 16 years old.
In each case, Rico used one or both of his fake profiles to persuade the victims into sending compromising photos, then used the threat of exposing the photos to coerce the victims into engaging in sexual acts and sending him videos of the acts. In two cases, after using a fake profile to demand that the victims engage in sexual acts and provide videos, he offered to “help” the victims by allowing them to perform the sexual act with him. Rico coerced at least one of the victims into engaging in sexual acts with him.
Rico faces up to life in prison and will be required to register as a sex offender.
The New Mexico State Police, the FBI, and the Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory investigated this case as part of the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The ICAC Task Force Program is a nation-wide network of task forces including over 90 federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in New Mexico dedicated to investigating, prosecuting and developing effective responses to Internet crimes against children.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Mease and Jaymie L. Roybal are prosecuting the case as part of Project Safe Childhood (PSC), a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/.
For more information on sextortion and how to get help, visit the FBI website.