Winona man targeted over 60 girls in sextortion scheme, federal charges say

A Minnesota man is facing federal charges in connection to a massive online sextortion scheme that victimized dozens of young girls across the country, prosecutors announced Thursday.

Thirty-year-old Valentin Silva Quintana was indicted on 13 counts of producing child pornography, one count of distributing child porn and one count of possessing child porn.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Quintana used social media apps like Snapchat and Instagram to threaten, manipulate and exploit at least 60 minor girls. Most of the victims were between 9 and 12 years old and lived in Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Prosecutors add that Quintana used fake identities and lied about his age, posing as a young girl himself, then would coerce his victims to send a sexual picture or video or secretly record them before threatening to send them to the victim’s friends and family.

With more than five dozen victims already identified, prosecutors say they believe there may be other victims. Anyone who fell victim to Quintana or has information about his case is urged to contact Homeland Security Investigations by calling 1-866-347-2423.

“Online predators are using social media apps to befriend, coerce, and ultimately extort children and teens,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger said in announcing the charges. “Thousands of minor victims have been the target of this horrific exploitation. It’s imperative that we as a community engage with our kids about sextortion schemes so we can prevent them in the first place.”

“The sexual exploitation of Minnesota’s children is horrific and tragic but never more so than when the offenses also include the physical assault of the young victims,” Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Superintendent Drew Evans said. “Our Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force will continue to partner with local law enforcement to root out those who commit these acts and help bring them to justice.”