Mt. Vernon Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge of Trying to Entice a Minor

Mt. Vernon Man Pleads Guilty to Federal Charge of Trying to Entice a Minor

MT. VERNON — A 43-year-old Mt. Vernon man pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Benton to a one-count indictment charging him with attempted enticement of a minor.

According to court documents, from on or about July 13, 2019, until on or about July 19, 2019, Jesse Cantu used a cellphone to connect to the internet and knowingly attempted to persuade a child to engage in prostitution and sexual activity.

Cantu was one of eight men federally indicted last year in Benton in connection with “operation Independence Day” a nationwide initiative aimed at combating child sex trafficking.

The men were all charged in connection with an online, undercover investigation.

No actual minors were harmed. Each of the offenses is alleged to have occurred in Williamson County, Illinois.

Cantu is facing between 10 years imprisonment and could receive as much as life behind bars when he’s sentenced November 3.

The offense also carries a possible lifetime term of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

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