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Cops Conduct Child Porn Sweep

Detectives from several Santa Clara County and Santa Cruz law enforcement agencies are targeting a cluster of suspected child porn users.

 

Update: 9:30 p.m., July 19: A total of 15 male suspects were arrested Thursday during the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (SVICAC) Santa Clara County-wide child pornography sweep dubbed "Operation Chickenhawk."

According to San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer, a spokesman for the sweep, the suspects were all booked into Santa Clara County Jail on felony possession of child pornography.

More than 165 detectives from 30 law enforcement agencies, including Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police, helped in the lengthy effort with detectives still working some of the cases to make further arrests, Dwyer explained. 

"There may be additional suspects ... they're all from Santa Clara County," he said.

The operation, which hoped to net more than 20 search warrants at different locations, is said to be the largest child porn sweep ever in Northern California, the San Jose Police Department said in a press release.

Detective teams from Los Gatos, Mountain View, San Jose, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz police departments, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security (Homeland Security Investigations) participated. The agencies are all part ofSVICAC.

Officers seized evidence linking the suspects to the distribution and or possession of child pornography, Dwyer said. The suspects were arrested after investigators believed they were trading so-called "peer-to-peer" child pornography online, he added.

The operation proceeded without any injuries to the large amount of law enforcement personnel involved, Dwyer said, however one suspect suffered a cut in the head when he tried to avoid TV cameras as he was being walked out of his residence after being arrested. "He tried to jump in the car really fast and bumped his head on the car and needed to get stitches at the hospital," Dwyer said.

This was the first time that such an operation has taken place in Santa Clara County, Dwyer said, adding that the agencies will probably collaborate on another effort soon. Similar raids have been conducted in Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Monterey counties. "It's a taskforce approach," he said.

About the children involved in the disturbing images, Dwyer explained the suspects, in some cases, are taking the photos and the taskforce's continuing investigation will try to identify the victims and other people in the images. "Rest assured that when we do see children in those pictures we are trying to put a name to that face and do a welfare check on the child to see if they're still being abused," Dwyer said.

The reason the effort is about nine suspects short of its goal of 20 arrests is because in some cases the officers couldn't find evidence at the scene and it takes time for law enforcement to find the evidence.. "They won't take somebody to jail ... but in the meantime the suspects are detained. Once pornography is found, they are transported [to jail]. We're still sifting through some of the evidence gathered and the searches."

Those arrested were:

  • Yun Chen, 36, 1562 Woodmeadow Ct., San Jose, software engineer.
  • Tom Truong, 27, 1939 Ensign Way, San Jose.
  • Valentine Hyjek, 46, 1281 Morrill Ave., San Jose, worked as an IT tech.
  • Lorenzo Caliva, 22, 32 Muirfield Ct., San Jose.
  • Ismael Aragon, 53, 5275 Vera Lane, San Jose. 
  • Brandon Hellewell, 18, 4518 Del Rey Ave., San Jose. When getting into the transport wagon, he panicked when the media arrived jumped in too quickly.  Hit his head on the top of the van and split it open. Was transported to the hospital by ambulance.
  • Davide Signorelli, 30, 774 Luna Park Dr., San Jose, a computer hardware engineer.
  • Luis Benavides, 29, 5974 Chesbro Ave., San Jose. 
  • Robert Henandez, 32, 5818 Blossom Ave., no city given,
  • Tony Silva, 64, 2154 Talia Ave., Santa Clara, works in real estate.
  • Mark Flores, 31, 4724 Mangrum Dr., Santa Clara.
  • Moises Cervantes, 36, of San Jose
  • Juan Carlos Rivera, 40, of San Jose
  • Marlon Ivan Garcia Chavez, 32, of San Jose
  • Robert Selvidge, 43, of Sunnyvale

No mugs are availabe as of the time of this posting for Hellewell and Hernandez, police said.

The arrests were made by different members of the taskforce, such as an FBI agent, a Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police officer, or a sheriff's deputy, he said.

Dwyer said the large group of officers participating in the effort convened early this morning at the San Jose Police Department, 201 W. Mission St. in San Jose, to begin the sweep.

SVICAC was established in March of 2003. It's one of 61 around the nation targeting peer-to-peer file sharing online. It investigates cases of web-facilitated child pornography and cases of child sexual exploitation or abuse that results from contact over the Internet or other computer services. The group works with the local F.B.I., I.C.E., and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

SVICAC's efforts have evolved from previous investigative techniques in which suspects were identified through chatroom decoy operations, police explained in the release.

Investigators now search for hard-core images involving pre-pubescent children. They use a variety of investigative techniques to identify suspects involved in possessing and distributing child pornography. Detectives then obtain search warrants for those homes, the department said in its prepared statement.

The SJPD is the lead agency for SVICAC and was responsible for the 20 separate investigations that led to the sweep, the department said in a release.

One of the tools used by SVICAC is a mobile forensics lab which allows investigators to drive up to a suspect's home, seize hard drives and immediately search for evidence that would normally take months to obtain from a state Department of Justice laboratory, according to the statement.

SVICAC has arrested more than 40 men for possession of child pornography since January, the statement said.

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