Sentencing hearing scheduled for May 5
■ Mary Ann Morris / Editor
Life in prison is the likely sentence for Eliberto Cruz Jacobo, 46, of Hemet, who was convicted last week of 60 felony counts related to solicitation of prostitution and human trafficking. He made contact with more than 120 women and teenage girls ranging in age from 14 to 31, say prosecutors, and convinced more than 17 to engage in sex acts with him.
Jacobo posed as a woman named Marlissa Garcia on Facebook, attempting to catfish women and teenage girls into what he promoted as a glamorous life of quick cash and independence. A year-long investigation into the matter ensued after two high school girls from Indio reported him. He was arrested in 2015.
Jacobo was convicted March 27 of all 60 felony counts against him, including human trafficking of a minor, inducing or persuading a minor to engage in a commercial sex act, statutory rape and possession of child pornography. Seven underage victims came forward.
His sentencing hearing is May 5.
According to Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao, Marlissa Garcia would continue to recommend that the victims pursue prostitution, even if they admitted they were under the age of consent.
“There was no miscommunication between ‘Marlissa Garcia’ and the girls in regards to what they would be doing to make money,” Paixao told the jury. “(Jacobo) actively tried to recruit young minors to engage in prostitution.”
Prosecutors said some of the victims did end up engaging in prostitution with a client known as “Robert,” who was later identified as Jacobo.
Sheriff’s deputies tracked the messages from “Marlissa Garcia” to an IP address at Jacobo’s Cinnabar Avenue home in Hemet, where deputies found photos and videos on his computer of Jacobo engaged in sex acts with minors. Some of the girls also pointed to Jacobo when shown a photographic lineup of suspects, telling detectives his name was “Robert,” according to the prosecution.
According to the prosecutor’s trial brief, “Marlissa Garcia” was first brought to the attention of law enforcement in November 2014 by two students at Indio’s Shadow Hills High School following a school presentation on human trafficking. The girls told deputies that “Marlissa Garcia” had worked to recruit them on Facebook as prostitutes.
The Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force (RCAHT) officers served several search warrants related to Facebook and various internet service providers, which revealed 100 similar prostitution pandering attempts across Southern California over a two-year period.