A man was being held Friday on $1 million bail, facing allegations that a longtime detective fears could be unprecedented in the close-knit Snohomish community.
The computers reportedly were found at a Snohomish apartment earlier this week. Detectives had been investigating a man who lived in the apartment after two young girls allegedly told police they had been repeatedly raped and molested there over the past few years.
The girls, 5 and 8, last week went to family members about the alleged abuse. The family called 911, according to a police affidavit. Investigators believe there may be other victims in the case.
On Thursday, Snohomish police arrested Enrique D. Sanchez Leon, 39, in connection with the investigation. Sanchez Leon appeared Friday in Everett District Court.
In court on Friday, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Adam Cornell called the allegations "horrific." He said a longtime detective told him the scope of the case was unprecedented in the detective's career.
The two sisters reportedly told detectives that Sanchez Leon forced them to perform sex acts with him while he taped or photographed them, according to court papers. They also reportedly said that he forced them to pose nude, and that he gave them candy and chocolate milk when they followed his orders. They also said they saw the images and videos of themselves on his computer screen.
As of Friday afternoon, detectives had identified at least four girls they believe were victimized. The girls ranged in age from 3 to 16.
Detectives served a search warrant Thursday night at Sanchez Leon's apartment.
They found items there indicating that Sanchez Leon may have represented himself as a photographer in the community to recruit children and teens, court records show.
Detectives now must look through the computers for evidence, Snohomish County sheriff's bureau chief Kevin Prentiss said Friday.
"That's an absolutely massive undertaking," he said.
Sanchez Leon reportedly admitted to police that his computers contain child pornography, according to the affidavit. He also allegedly told detectives that he had taken nude photos of other girls.
Sanchez Leon denied ever distributing or sharing the materials with others.
Yet the sheer number of computers and hard drives in Sanchez Leon's apartment was a major red flag, Prentiss said.
"That would certainly indicate to me that this was more than just personal-use equipment," he said.
At the apartment, police reportedly found business cards listing Sanchez Leon as a "professional photographer," as well as a file folder of what appeared to be modeling contracts.
Cornell asked for the high bail partly because Sanchez Leon's immigration status is murky and he is considered a flight risk, Cornell said.
Sanchez Leon has no known criminal history in Washington, but investigators on Friday still were checking other locations.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office is asking for anyone who has had any dealings with Enrique D. Sanchez Leon, 39, of Snohomish, to contact Snohomish police at 360-568-0888. That includes anyone who might recognize his name, or anyone whose children might have had contact with him.
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