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Operation targets child pornographers

One search took place in Lodi, but no arrests were made; 28 arrested across three counties

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Posted: Friday, October 16, 2009 12:00 am

Local, state and federal law enforcement officers searched homes and confiscated computers in a three-county, two-day operation focusing on finding child pornographers.

The sweep, dubbed Operation TRAPS, resulted in 169 searches and 28 arrests, as well as evidence that could lead to more arrests once computers are analyzed, the FBI announced Thursday.

A majority of the searches were in San Joaquin County, but only one happened in Lodi. In that matter, two computers were seized from a home and will be inspected by experts, said Lodi Police Detective Nick Rafiq.

The suspect in that matter is a juvenile, so child privacy laws prevented Rafiq from releasing further information about the suspect. He noted, though, that a juvenile can still face charges of possessing child pornography.

"It's not the viewer's age; it's the crime," Rafiq said.

Rafiq, who is a member of a regional high-tech crimes task force, was the only Lodi officer involved in the operation that was held Tuesday and Wednesday.

In San Joaquin County, 54 homes were searched in Stockton, resulting in 11 arrests, said FBI Special Agent Steve Dupre. Another 48 locations were searched in Tracy, leading to three arrests.

Some of the Tracy searches were a result of extensive investigations after the disappearance and homicide of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu, Dupre acknowledged. Melissa Huckaby has since been indicted on murder and assault charges in that case, but several residents in the mobile home park where Cantu and Huckaby lived were questioned and searched.

The operation was part of a larger FBI program called the Innocent Images National Initiative, which focuses on those who sexually abuse children by using the Internet to either meet them or share graphic images of the assaults.

About 150 officers from 28 law enforcement agencies took part in Operation TRAPS, searching homes of parolees and probationers in San Joaquin, Sacramento and Stanislaus counties.

Agencies included Lodi and Stockton police, the California Highway Patrol, and San Joaquin County Sheriff's Office, District Attorney's Office and Probation Department.

All told, agents tried to contact 196 people. They searched 169 places — including 102 in Stockton and Tracy — and arrested 28 people, Dupre said.

They seized 30 computers and a number of cameras, cell phones, storage drives and DVDs. More arrests are expected after those items are inspected, the FBI said.

Contact reporter Layla Bohm at layla@lodinews.com.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 3:39 am on Fri, Oct 16, 2009.

    Posts:

    I love watching those 60 minute tv specials where "Teen looking decoys", lol, lure child molesters to a home and "BUST THEM, LOL!

     

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