BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Fifteen people, including a California Highway Patrol officer and a prison employee, were arrested in connection with trying to meet minors to engage in sex acts after the sheriff’s office conducted an undercover operation where detectives posed as children online.
“The detectives received numerous correspondence from child predators, who agreed to meet in order to engage in lewd acts with a child,” a sheriff’s release said. “Undercover detectives subsequently arrested the suspects when they arrived at the meeting location, while others were arrested at their homes.”
Sheriff’s officials said children spending more time at home and online due to the coronavirus pandemic can be vulnerable to sexual exploitation and grooming by online predators.
Those arrested range in age from 21 to 54 and include two registered sex offenders, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employee and a California Highway Patrol officer, according to the release.
The District Attorney’s office more than a week ago announced the arrest of 51-year-old Brian Pardue, the CHP officer. The CDCR employee is Ricardo Mancillas, 54, the release said. According to CDCR, Mancillas is currently on a leave of absence from his position as an Information Technology Specialist I at Wasco State Prison.
The others arrested were identified in the release as Devon Armstrong, 25, Noah Gause, 21, Jeffrey Perez, 30, Matthew Porcho, 35, Anthony Morales, 27, Gene Brimage, 45, Albert Blankenship, 49, Edgar Mati Jr., 30, Miguel Martinez, 29, Michael Peterson, 26, Edward Gonzales, 44, Donald Self, 44, and Everado Viramontes, 42.