California driving instructor charged with coercing teen girls to produce pornographic material

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Johnnatan Zelaya Izaguirre, 39, of Redwood City targeted underage victims, including some of his students, on social media and groomed them, federal prosecutors said.
(Jenny Kane / Associated Press)

A Northern California driving school owner faces federal charges after authorities accused him of soliciting teenage girls, including some of his students, to produce child pornography.

Johnnatan Zelaya Izaguirre, 39, of Redwood City faces two counts of coercion and enticement of a minor, one count of receipt of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography, according to the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of California.

Zelaya, who owns and operates a driving school in San Mateo County, used social media to “entice and coerce” the girls to produce the pornographic material “for his personal use and for sale,” prosecutors said Friday.


“The indictment alleges Zelaya offered to manage the minor victims’ sale of their sexually explicit content, offered monetary rewards for selling the victims’ content, and bought the victims sex toys to use in videos they were encouraged to create,” prosecutors said.

Zelaya persuaded his victims to create child pornography in part by falsely claiming to be in law enforcement, prosecutors said. According to court documents, he graduated from a police academy in the Bay Area — though authorities did not specify which — but he did not join a police department.

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Zelaya used social media to target the underage girls, who ranged from 14 to 17 years old, prosecutors said.

Court documents described how he groomed his victims by complimenting their appearances, developing sexualized friendships with them, offering to manage their explicit content posted online and extending “financial rewards” if they created the content.

“Zelaya allegedly provided a victim a list of the amounts of money she could earn by producing videos depending upon whether the content included nude vs. non-nude videos, videos of masturbation, or videos of ‘toy play,’” prosecutors said. “On one occasion, Zelaya allegedly threatened to leak explicit content to everyone his victim knew if she stopped creating content for him.”

He was arrested Jan. 4 after communicating with an undercover police officer he thought was 17 years old, prosecutors said.


The undercover officer had posed as a driving student, and Zelaya had “highly sexualized conversations with instructions on how to masturbate, discussions of future interactions in which he would orally copulate and have sexual intercourse with her,” prosecutors said.

He also asked the undercover officer to perform a photo shoot with him, prosecutors said. Zelaya’s arrest came during a planned meet-up with the undercover officer.

Zelaya’s attorney could not be reached for comment.