Child Predators Arrested in Major Crackdown on Child Porn in California

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Child Predators Arrested in Major Crackdown on Child Porn in California

A large-scale child pornography sting in the Sacramento Valley region of California saw 12 child predators arrested, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force conducted the high-tech investigation dubbed “Operation Monster Mash.”

Sheriff Jim Cooper did not mince words against those allegedly involved in child pornography targeted in the task force’s third operation this year.

“These individuals are the scum of the earth,” Mr. Cooper said during a press conference in California, Tuesday when reffering to the child predators.

“I wish I could show you all in the public how bad it is. These folks are evil.”

The Sheriff said the child victims that were involved were as young as newborns and toddlers.

One of the men arrested allegedly asked his victims’ parents for permission to molest the child, he added.

The Sheriff’s office said in a social media post on Tuesday:

“Many of the targeted suspects were found to be in possession of horrendous [child pornography] files that depicted sexual images of infants and toddlers who were forced to engage in sexual abuse.”

During the two-week-long operation, tens of thousands of images and videos were recovered, according to the Sheriff’s office.

The department said they found over five terabytes, equal to 5,000 gigabytes of images.

After the child predators were arrested after the sting in California, the Sheriff’s department reported that Police recovered videos and images of unknown suspects urinating on infants and toddlers.

The Epoch Times reported:

One suspect, Josh Sevilla, 40, of Citrus Heights, California, is also suspected of “hands-on” offenses with a minor who was between 11 and 12 years old for two years, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Mr. Sevilla was charged with 12 counts of lewd acts with a minor by force or fear, eight counts of lewd acts with a minor under 14, and possession of child pornography. The defendant remained in custody Tuesday on a $1 million bond, according to the Sheriff’s office.

Tips that led to many of the arrests in the investigation might be harder to obtain in the future following a recent decision by Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta—parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp—to encrypt, or conceal, its data by the end of the year.

Meta provides law enforcement about 27 million tips of child pornography crimes each year, according to Sheriff Cooper.

But encryption will prevent law enforcement from easily investigating crimes, he said.

“We’re going to lose a majority of those tips,” Mr. Cooper said.

Child pornography has become rampant on Meta platforms and other internet sites, and the problem especially exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sheriff added.

“Facebook and Meta, they want to skirt their responsibility,” Mr. Cooper said.

“They’re going to full encryption. So then, how do we capture these bad people? Ask yourself, who is Meta concerned about? It’s profits over our children.”

The tech industry holds a lot of influence and power in the state Legislature, Mr. Cooper added. He said he is already planning to work with state lawmakers to develop legislation to introduce next year addressing harsher penalties and other ways to combat the growing problem, he said.

Child pornography has grown so vast in Sacramento County, the district attorney had to add another prosecutor for the unit. The office now has two full-time prosecutors working about 85 cases, according to the district attorney’s office.

Others arrested during “Operation Monster Mash” were:

Santos Abraham Sanchez, 53, of Sacramento

Gary Paul Gauthier, 63, of Sacramento

Christopher Kent Bowman, 38, of Citrus Heights

Joseph John Deangelis, 53, of Elk Grove

Michael Bradford Stealey, 45, of Folsom

Joshua Alan Akins, 35, of Lodi

Thomas Rider Plowright, 55, city unknown

Marc Kevin Floresca, 32, of Cameron Park

Matthew Todd Berg, 35, of Roseville

Robert Owen Gunwall, 50, of Roseville

James Stanley Skaggs, 60, of Isleton

Further charges are pending against some defendants, according to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

Defendants face multiple felony child pornography counts, including possession, distribution, and production of pornography; lewd act with a minor under the age of 14; lewd acts with a minor by force or fear; and firearms charges including being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Maximum sentences for each defendant have not yet been determined, according to the district attorney’s office.

READ: Two Top Democrats Charged with Election Fraud Crimes

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