Jury convicts 42-year-old man on child enticement charge

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Federal prosecutors say a Springfield man was convicted Friday for trying to entice a minor to take part in sexual activity and using the internet to transmit information about a minor.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of Illinois, says 42-year-old Rafael Mercado Berrios (aka Jose Berrios), of the 1200 block of N. Fourth St., was found guilty before Judge Sue Myerscough after a jury deliberated for 90 minutes.

Berrios will be sentenced on Oct. 15.

Prosecutors say they presented evidence that the 42-year-old man used social media to engage with someone he thought was a 15-year-old girl. Additionally, the release says that on Aug. 28 last year, Berrios went to a home in Springfield, expecting to meet with a 15-year-old girl for a sexual encounter.

Berrios has been held by the U.S. Marshal’s Service since he was arrested on Aug. 28. Prosecutor say he faces a statutory sentence of 10 years and up to life in prison.

The FBI and the Sangamon County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Security Investigations, Springfield Police, and Illinois State Police assisted with the investigation, with help from the Sangamon County State’s Attorney.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tanner K. Jacobs and Gregory K. Harris served as prosecutors for the case.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative by the Department of Justice to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, click here: www.justice.gov/psc.

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