San Diego

San Diego Man Charged With Trying to Lure 11-Year-Old Girl and Sexually Exploit Her

The accused man told police he knew the victim was a minor, according to court documents.

A San Diego man is facing multiple charges for attempting to lure an 11-year-old girl to sexually exploit her in San Diego, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of California.

Miguel Cervantes, 24, faces charges of sexual exploitation of children and the attempted enticement of a minor, according to unsealed court documents. He contacted the minor using a phone and computer in an effort to coerce the victim, according to court documents.

Cervantes first contacted the minor on March 16, when she began chatting with him online through a mobile application called "Candid," according to the unsealed documents. 

Soon after they began talking, Cervantes asked the girl how old she was. He quickly discovered she was a minor and lied about his age, telling the victim that he was 18 years old when he was really several years older. 

Cervantes allegedly continued to message the victim, with increasingly lewd conversations that eventually led to him to send her photos of his genitals. 

On March 21, the minor contacted Cervantes and told him she was moving away from San Diego. In response, Cervantes tried to persuade her into traveling to San Diego for a weekend to meet him in a motel, and then tried to persuade her into saving her allowance money to buy him a plane ticket to visit her and a motel room, according to court documents.

Later, he coerced her into exchanging lewd photos. Shortly after he allegedly asked her, "Are you really only 11 tho?"

When she replied that she was only 11, he warned the minor not to tell anyone about their interaction.

"If anyone finds out that we're doing this, I could go to prison," said Cervantes, according to court documents. "So I just want you to know that."

On Mar. 22, Cervantes asked the minor for her street address, then encouraged her to leave her house and meet him. At that point, the victim became scared but Cervantes continued to pressure her and demand nude photos, according to court documents.

A few days later, the victim's mother found the lewd conversations on her daughter's iPad and called police.

Detective Elliot Shaffer, a Chula Vista police officer assigned to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), investigated the case. Detective Shaffer located the Candid mobile app as part of the ICAC investigation.

Shaffer communicated with Cervantes while posing as the 11-year-old victim and made plans to meet with him at a nearby McDonald's restaurant, according to court documents.

Cervantes was arrested when he showed up at McDonalds.

After his arrest, Cervantes waived his Miranda rights and admitted to knowing that the victim was a minor, and that he sent her multiple photos of his genitals using the Candid app, according to court documents.

He also acknowledged that he would have sexually exploited the minor if possible, according to court documents.

The date of Cervantes' court appearance was not immediately available.

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