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FBI takes on Wilmington child pornography case, sends it to federal court

Isai Sanchez was arrested in November by the Wilmington Police Department; he now faces federal charges.

Isai Sanchez was arrested in November of last year, charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. (Port City Daily photo | Courtesy New Hanover County Detention Center)
Isai Sanchez was arrested in November of last year, charged with three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor. (Port City Daily photo | Courtesy New Hanover County Detention Center)

RALEIGH–A Wilmington man arrested last year is now facing federal charges after the Federal Bureau of Investigation took on the case.

On Wednesday, May 23, United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon announced that a federal grand jury had returned a five-count indictment against Isai Sanchez, 22, of Wilmington; Sanchez is charged with four counts of receiving child pornography and one charge of possession.

Sanchez was arrested on November 15, 2017, by the Wilmington Police Department. At the time, he was charged with receiving at least four digital videos of minors performing explicit sex acts. According to the WPD incident report, Sanches first received these videos on May 4, 2017.

Sanchez was given a $250,000 bond and held at the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office detention center on three charges of third-degree sexual exploitation of a minor; Sanchez is still detained awaiting trial.

The FBI’s Project Safe Childhood initiative picked up the case and sent it to the federal grand jury, where it will be prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jake D. Pugh. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Don Connelly said the federal case does not replace the state charges, however, he added it is common for local charges to be dropped when a federal indictment is secured.

New Hanover County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Samantha Dooies said the prosecutor handling the state charges would discuss with federal prosecutors to determine how to proceed with local charges.

If convicted in federal court, Sanchez will face a maximum of twenty years in prison, as well as a maximum post-release sentence of lifetime supervised probation.

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