Valley Sex Predator Sting | 60 People Arrested

August 28, 2008 7:34:55 PM PDT
The suspects are accused of a variety of crimes, including child pornography and using the internet to lure a minor.Investigators made contact with 377 people over the past several weeks. They searched homes and businesses hauling off numerous computers. Mostly men were arrested in the operation aimed at protecting kids.

Federal investigators want to protect young minds and hands like these from being exploited online.

McGregor Scott, U.S. Attorney Eastern Dist.: "In the old days we would close our windows, lock our doors, make sure our children were tucked safely into their beds at night to make sure that no one could come into our home. Today child molesters, sex predators those who seek to exploit our children are coming electronically into our homes via the internet."

Clovis Soccer Coach Dimitrios Kastis is one of dozens arrested. He's facing federal charges of receiving and passing nearly 6 thousand child porn images. The 53 year old is already answering to child molestation charges in Fresno Superior Court. Investigators say many who trade child pornography have also molested a child.

"Our theory here is if we can take someone who is creating, distributing child pornography and put them in a federal penitentiary, x number of children are not going to be molested during that prison sentence."

Officers with special forensic training say many of the investigations began in internet chat rooms and ended in illegal requests.

Kevin Wiens, Fresno Sheriff's Department: "We have a lot of tools available to us in law enforcement that helped us identify individuals that were preying on children on the internet and we did use one of those tools in this operation to identify many of the perpetrators that were arrested."

Federal agents say many of those arrested are repeat offenders who will likely get even harsher sentences.

This is the second of many operations planned. Investigators say this type of crackdown also helps protect children from the violence associated with sex crimes.

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