#California; #US; #OperationCovidChatdown; #USImmigrationAndCustomsAuthorities
Fresno (California), Aug 8 (Canadian-Media): Arrest of 34 men in Fresno, California was made by Operation Covid Chatdown for soliciting sexual acts from 12- or 13-year-old children who were actually undercover law enforcement operatives, United States (US) Immigration and Customs Authorities said.
Operation Covid Chatdown noted that during the undercover operation from July 20 to Aug. 2, 2020, more than 190 online contacts continued to chat even after they knew they were talking to whom they believed was a minor. There were a significant number of instances in which perpetrators also sent sexually explicit images. When the subjects asked the undercover operatives to engage in sexual acts, they were provided an address in Fresno, where they traveled and were subsequently arrested. No real minors were involved in the operation.
“These abhorrent attempts by predators to exploit innocent children for immoral and illegal sexual gratification have no place in American society,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) San Francisco (NorCal) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. “Homeland Security Investigations will relentlessly pursue anyone involved in criminal behavior against children.”
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When these 34 men traveled by foot, skateboard, bike, or vehicle to meet 12- and 13-year-old boys and girls, they were met by those who turned out to be law enforcement operatives with badges, guns and handcuffs. It was admitted by a number of the arrested individuals that they had victimizing real children during previous attempts. it was admitted by one man who was HIV positive that he planned to have sex with a 13-year-old child. A range of criminal charges, were laid against the suspects, including state charges for sending harmful material to seduce a minor, as well as possessing, transmission and transportation of child pornography.
Central California Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force was responsible for Operation COVID Chatdown. Formed in 2007, the Central California ICAC Task Force is comprised of 64 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies spread throughout nine counties in the Central Valley. Apart from its dedication to protecting children online, it is also responsible for investigating crimes committed against children, which are facilitated by the Internet and computer usage.
These culprits were brought to justice by HSI agents and criminal analysts exhaustive investigative work, together with HSI’s partners. These arrests were made possible through a joint effort with HSI’s Law Enforcement partners in the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Multi-Agency Gang Enforcement Consortium (MAGEC), the Police Departments of Clovis, Fresno, Kingsburg, Parlier, San Luis Obispo, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, and the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office.