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Turlock man indicted for sexual exploitation of a minor
Cristian Ceja
Cristian Ceja

A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against Christian Ceja, 27, of Turlock, charging him with transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and receipt of child pornography, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between Aug. 27, 2023, and Jan. 3, 2024, Ceja transported a 16-year-old girl from Turlock to Idaho with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. In addition, Ceja received images of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Authorities learned of the teenager’s location after she contacted her parents saying she wanted to come home and they contacted the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office was able to ping her phone, which showed her to be in Kamiah, Idaho and the detective contacted the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies responded to the location and located a male subject and the teen girl in a trailer outside of a residence. The teen was taken into protective custody, and the adult man, later identified as Ceja, was arrested.

This case is the product of an investigation by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant U.S. Attorney Shea J. Kenny is prosecuting the case.

If convicted, Ceja faces a mandatory statutory minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison for the most serious charged count, and a $250,000 fine per count, plus up to a lifetime of supervised release.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.