Nine men arrested in El Centro for crimes against children

EL CENTRO, Calif. – Authorities say nine men wont’ be contacting local minors through the internet anymore – thanks to Operation Desert Guardian.

This operation joined the forces of several local and regional agencies to stop the attempted luring of minors for sexual exploitation.

Imperial County Sheriff Ray Loera says there is evidence of contact made through the internet.

“There was some communications made,” Loera said.

ICSO received help from a special cyber unit in San Diego to crack this case.

“San Diego Internet Task Force that deals specifically with this and has been able to assist us in detecting these types of crimes,” said Loera.

After a careful nine-day investigation, authorities closed in on nine men in El Centro. Sergeant Jimmy Duran says one of the suspects crashed against a tree trying to escape.

“He actually fled the area when the officers were getting ready to contact him. His vehicle ended up colliding with a tree,” Duran said.

Another suspect had drugs in his possession.

“Had methamphetamine in his possession. He was also charged for that,” Duran said.

One suspect belonged to the military.

“He is actually a national guardsman and he was here on active duty for the days when he was arrested,” Duran said.

Duran said another suspect is from out of the country.

“One was a Canadian citizen who comes down here during the winter month,” Duran said.

Duran credits the close working relationship of law enforcement agencies for stopping these men.

“Success of this operation was greatly in part to the unity that local law enforcement agencies have,” Duran said.

Loera says the internet can be dangerous.

“It’s very common to use the internet in these types of crimes because people can have a lot of technology to hide behind,” Loera said.

He encourages parents to be more on the lookout for their kids.

“They have to be on top of them. They have to monitor what they’re doing,” Loera said.

Based on the success of operation Desert Guardian, local authorities are considering options.

“We certainly are exploring the possibility of making this a full-time task force,” Loera said.

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