Two local men are arrested in child pornography sweep
Detectives from a regional Internet-crimes task force have arrested nine men, including Portola Valley resident Stephen Wolf, 64, and Menlo Park resident Charles Vela Reyes Jr., 46, on felony charges of possession of child pornography, the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office reported.
The nine men were booked into county jail on the possession charges March 22 after a sweep of 11 homes in San Mateo County.
A March 22 account of the arrests from the Sheriff's Office had Mr. Reyes as a resident of San Jose, but a March 26 statement from the District Attorney's Office notes a search of Mr. Reyes' "home in Menlo Park."
In the sweep, detectives seized computers containing pornographic images "and other evidence linking the men to the distribution and/or possession of child pornography," the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force detected "a cluster of suspected child pornography users" in San Mateo County and employed the services of over 100 investigators from more than 20 law enforcement agencies.
The agencies include the Sheriff's Office, the Menlo Park Police Department, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and a "homeland security" investigative arm of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Task force investigators used decoys in Internet chat rooms to identify suspects, and tracked them based on the sharing of "hard core images involving pre-pubescent children," the Sheriff's Office said. Internet addresses of individual computers were the basis for the subsequent search warrants.
The task force has a mobile forensics lab in a van that enables a rapid evidence search of a computer's hard drive on the spot, a search that would normally take months if done in a Department of Justice lab, the statement said.
The other suspects arrested on possession charges are Gordon Lee of Daly City, Christopher Winans of East Palo Alto, Paul Tazbaz of San Mateo, Steve Wilson of South San Francisco, and Cruz-Martin Caseiro-Rosas of South San Francisco. Paul Ambler and Samnang Chun, both of San Mateo, were charged with both possession and distribution of child pornography.
These arrests bring to 40 the task force's total child-porn-related arrests since November 2011, including in Marin, Sonoma, Monterey and Alameda counties, and in San Jose and Oakland.
"Investigators have found significant links between the possession and trading of child pornography and the actual victimization of children, including a progression by some suspects from fantasy (Internet child porn) to reality (sexual crimes against actual child-victims)," the statement said. "Frequent operations such as these help keep our communities safe."
Go to meganslaw.ca.gov for information on where convicted sex offenders live.
For information on how to keep children safe on the Internet, do a web search for "A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety."
Go to netsmartz.org/Parents to visit the website of the National Center for Missing or Exploited Children.