20 arrested in massive South Bay child porn sweep

(KGO)
July 19, 2012 7:30:01 PM PDT
More than 150 law enforcement officers fanned out across Santa Clara County Thursday morning arresting at least 20 child pornography suspects in their homes. It was called "Operation Chicken Hawk" and the crackdown was the largest child porn sweep ever in the Northern California.

Police brought one suspect out of his house in handcuffs at around 10 a.m., then collected evidence from his computer and home. Similar scenes were repeated at least ten times Thursday with police hoping for a total of 20 arrests by day's end. "The detectives are well on their way to being pretty much past the first phase which is actually hitting the houses, detaining everybody, and now it's starting to go through all the evidence," SJPD Sgt. Jason Dwyer said.

165 detectives from 30 law enforcement agencies helped the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children task force execute 20 warrants. Thursday's targets represented a cluster of child pornography users sharing images through internet chat rooms.

Neighbors of one suspect on Vera Lane said he was taken into custody around 8 a.m. They described him as a quiet neighbor who liked to hang around the pool and talk to the children playing there. Left behind in his van were a child's car seat and a holy bible. "He was always on the computer. He was always on a computer and I go man, that is a computer freak if I've ever see one," neighbor Loretta Tackite told ABC7 News.

The task force is one of more than 60 around the nation focusing on online file sharing. Police say the purpose of the sweep was to identify and help the victims, prevent the offenders from escalating their crimes, and send a message. "Operations like this send a very important message to offenders that haven't been caught yet and that is, if you're thinking that you're going to sit in the comfort of your own home just because no one else is around while you're on the internet and you're trading child porn, we're probably going to catch up with you at some point.

All of those rounded up Thursday are expected to face a minimum of possession of child pornography. Some might also face additional charges of production and distribution.


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