Twelve Los Angeles County residents, including a former middle school teacher, are among 255 suspected child predators arrested during a five-week operation conducted by federal agencies.
Operation iGuardian, which ran from May 28 to June 30, was created to rescue victims of online sexual exploitation and arrest their abusers. It also targeted criminals who possess or produce child pornography, according to a statement issued to the media by Homeland Security Investigations (HIS).
HIS, along with Internet Crimes Against Children, oversaw the operation and determined that a “disturbing trend” is emerging in which child predators are persuading children to create and share sexually explicit material online. Sixty-one children were identified as victims.
“Child abusers prowl social media looking for opportunities to force young people into sexual exploitation through guile, deceit and extortion,” said director John Morton of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that oversees HIS, in the press release.
Investigators found the child predators were sending minors obscene images, chatting with them about sexual topics, asking them for sexual images or videos and attempting to meet them for sex. Statewide, 39 people were arrested and five juvenile victims were identified during the operation.
Among those arrested was David Boyle, 49, a former Covina Middle School teacher who allegedly used the Internet to entice a 14-year-old boy to engage in sexual activities. Boyle allegedly set up a meeting in his classroom with an undercover investigator whom he believed "shared his sexual interest in young boys," according to ICE.
Boyle was arrested during the June 5 undercover operation.
“Because of his position as a teacher, his penchant for child pornography and that there is one case where he allegedly abused a child, we think that he may have abused others,” said Claude Arnold, the ICE special agent in charge.
Also arrested was 29-year-old David Jones of Topanga, a professional inline skater accused of having and distributing child pornography. The suspect allegedly used several different email addresses to upload child pornography images on social networking sites.
Investigators discovered an external hard drive at one of his residences with "several thousand" images and videos depicting child sexual abuse, according to ICE. Some of the victims were as young as 6, according to investigators.
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