A Pine City, Minn., man is facing several federal charges in connection to allegedly sexually exploiting minors through the use of social media, including enticing or coercing some victims to engage in prostitution or sex acts.
Caleb Vincent McLaughlin, 26, has been charged with soliciting, producing, receiving, and distributing images of child pornography, and enticing a child to engage in illegal sexual activity.
Charges say McLaughlin at times presented himself as a 17-year-old to the victims, who ranged in age from approximately 11 to 16 years old.
According to court documents, since at least January 2019, McLaughlin created and used multiple social media accounts and communications applications to solicit and direct minor girls in Minnesota to create sexually explicit images and videos to send to him.
The complaint describes three separate victims. In one case, McLaughlin allegedly used the internet to entice or coerce the victim aged 14 to 15 to engage in prostitution or sexual activity over a six-month period in 2022. Another charge involves the same victim and describes that McLaughlin received sexually explicit images of the minor through the use of a computer.
In another case, charges say investigators discovered a video clip of McLaughlin engaged in intercourse with a victim aged 15 and that he distributed the video using the internet. McLaughlin coerced or enticed another minor victim to supply sexually explicit images, which he used a computer to facilitate, according to the charges.
Charges say McLaughlin used a variety of aliases and Snapchat IDs, including “Jake Benson,” “Lift11” or “Tech4cm,” in his scheme, and sometimes purported to be 17 years old to prey on minor girls he met online in order to entice and coerce them to create sexually explicit images and videos. In addition to producing child sexual abuse material, McLaughlin would offer minor girls drugs, alcohol, cash, or gift cards in exchange for sex acts.
To date, law enforcement has identified several minor victims, and is actively attempting to confirm the identity of many others. They ask anyone who believes they or their minor dependents have been victimized by McLaughlin to contact the FBI Tip Line at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or tips.fbi.gov.
McLaughlin was arrested Wednesday and made his initial appearance on Thursday before Magistrate Judge Dulce J. Foster. He was ordered preliminarily detained pending a detention hearing which is scheduled for July 25 in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
The investigation conducted by the FBI utilized substantial assistance from the St. Paul Police Department, Pine County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.
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