McAllen man admits to using Instagram to sexually coerce children

The Instagram logo is seen on a cell phone in Boston, USA, Oct. 14, 2022. (Michael Dwyer/AP Photo)
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A 23-year-old McAllen man pleaded guilty Friday to using Instagram to sexually coerce and entice a minor.

Israel Ruiz, who was arrested on March 15, 2021, admitted to using the social media app to solicit sexually explicit images from children as young as 9 between Jan. 1, 2020, and Feb. 29, 2020, according to an FBI news release and a criminal complaint.

McAllen FBI special agents began investigating Ruiz on Oct. 15, 2020, after receiving a lead from the FBI field office in Denver.

Special agents there came into contact with a 9-year-old girl who had created child sexual abuse material for an adult they were investigating, later identified as Ruiz, according to the complaint.

That document includes several pages of transcripts that include sexually explicit messages between Ruiz and the child he allegedly coerced.

When FBI agents searched Ruiz’s mother’s house, where he lived, he tried to destroy evidence.

“Ruiz broke the screen of the Android device, hid the phone inside a large bag of dog food in the garage, and removed the battery hiding it behind a bedframe on the other side of the garage,” the complaint stated.

The news release said Ruiz used several tactics to obtain child sexual abuse material from children via the social media platform.

“He also intimidated the minors by threatening to post other nude images of them or their friends online if additional images were not given to him,” the release stated.

He is scheduled for sentencing on July 19 and faces up to life in prison and a possible maximum fine of $250,000.

Ruiz has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing, the release said.