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Pico Rivera man arrested in connection with alleged 'sextortion' scheme

A 19-year-old Pico Rivera man was arrested this week in connection with a "sextortion" scheme that targeted nearly two dozen teenage girls across California and several other states, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Cesar Estrada was arrested Wednesday and booked on suspicion of 151 counts of communicating with minors for sexual purposes and lewd acts on a child, according to a statement from Lt. Andrew Meyer of the sheriff's department's Special Victims Bureau.

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Meyer said investigators with the Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Team, or SAFE Team, a unit that investigates Internet crimes, began looking at the case early this year when one of the victims came forward.

A 14-year-old Antelope Valley girl alleged she had befriended Estrada via Facebook and claimed he had enticed her to send him nude photos of herself. She then alleged that Estrada began pressuring her to send more graphic photos and videos, and threatened to send the nude photos to her entire Facebook friend list if she didn't comply.

Meyer said the teen feared her pictures would be shared with her friends and relatives and reported the extortion to her father, then to the Sheriff's Department.

Meyer said detectives with the SAFE Team were able to track down the suspect and served a search warrant at his home in the 8300 block of Rosemead Boulevard.

"The suspect's computers and social media sites were searched and the suspect was identified as Cesar Estrada," Meyer said. "The SAFE Team detectives discovered over 26,000 pages of conversations and texts between Mr. Estrada and girls in multiple states, making similar threats."

Meyer said at least 21 young girls between 12 and 17 years old have been identified as victims of the alleged scheme.

Much like the first victim, investigators learned that the girls had allegedly met Estrada through social media sites and had been enticed to send nude photos and videos of themselves performing sex acts.

Ultimately investigators "traveled throughout the United States to interview the teenage victims, including Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington," Meyer said in the statement. "Additional victims were found in Los Angeles County and Orange County, and in cities of San Francisco and Visalia."

Estrada remains in custody on $3-million bail.

For more Southern California news follow @LATVives 

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