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32 arrested in Sutter County sex sting

Monica Vaughan
Special to The Union

Operation Facebook sting:

Rigo Alexander Alvarado, 28, Sacramento - Attempt to contact a minor to commit a felony, arrange meeting with a minor for lewd acts, attempt lewd acts

Joshua Banez, 29, Yuba City - Attempt to contact a minor to commit a felony, arrange meeting with a minor for lewd acts, attempt lewd acts, send harmful matter to minor

Puran Bhunga, 25, Yuba City - Unlawful contact with a minor, arrange a meeting with minor for lewd acts and possess child pornography

Marcus Campbell, 21, Yuba City - Attempt to contact a minor to commit a felony, arrange meeting with a minor for lewd acts, attempted lewd acts, send harmful matter to minor, attempt to sell marijuana to minor

Jeffrey Fomin, 56, Yuba City - Attempt sell marijuana to minor

Kenneth Hatchett, 25, Yuba City - Attempt to sell marijuana to minor

Jorge Hernandez-Rojas, 28, Live Oak - Contact minor for sex, arrange meeting with minor for lewd acts

Justin Johnson, 33, Yuba City - Contact minor for sex

Sven Johnson, 32, Marysville - 288.3(a) Unlawful contact with minor, send harmful matter to minor, arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd acts, attempt lewd acts with child

Roberto Ledesma, 40, Yuba City

Darion Sandoval, 21, Yuba City - Attempt furnish marijuana to minor

Arnold Serrano, 48, Yuba City - Send harmful matter to minor, arrange a meeting with minor for lewd acts, unlawful contact with minor, attempt lewd acts

Steven Tapp, 21, Yuba City - Attempt to sell marijuana to a minor, contact minor for sex

Dakota Wenner, 21, Marysville- Send harmful matter to minor, attempt furnish marijuana to minor, arrange a meeting with minor for lewd acts

Justin Ziegenmeyer, 31, Yuba City - Send harmful matter to minor, unlawful contact with minor, attempt persuade minor to produce porn, arrange a meeting with minor for purpose of lewd act, attempt lewd act with child

Operation Craigslist sting:

Jeff Albo, 50, Washington state - Attempt sex with victim 10 or under, attempt oral copulation or penetration of child under 10, attempt lewd acts with child, arrange meeting with minor for purpose of lewd act

Nicholas Brown, 26, Oroville - Attempt lewd act with child, arrange meeting with minor for lewd acts

Esteban Carlos, 18, Yuba City - Arrange a meeting with minor for purpose of lewd act, unlawful contact with minor, attempt oral copulation with minor

David Chavarin, 33, North Highlands - Attempt unlawful sex with child 10 or under, attempt oral copulation or penetration with child, attempt lewd acts, arrange meeting with minor for purpose of lewd acts

Nicholas Condrey, 31, Yuba City - Attempt lewd act with child, meet minor for sex, possession of a controlled substance

Kim Lee Cozby, 34, Marysville - Arrange a meeting with minor for lewd act, attempt sex with victim 10 or under, attempt lewd acts with child

Brandon Grigger, 26, Marysville - Unlawful contact with minor, send harmful matter to minor, attempt to pursued minor into porn

Thomas Hawk, 45, Marysville - Attempt lewd act with child, meet minor for sex, attempt unlawful sex with child

Thomas Joseph, 50, Marysville - Attempt lewd act with child, meet minor for sex, attempt unlawful sex with child

Michael Lee -Kim, 23, Washington - Attempt lewd acts with child, arrange a meeting with a minor for lewd acts

Jayson Mehler, 24, Yuba City - Attempt lewd act with child, meet minor for sex, attempt unlawful sex with child

Howard Montenegro, 45, Sacramento - Attempt lewd acts with child, arrange a meeting with minor for lewd acts, false impersonation

Timothy Neher, 40, Chico - Arrange meeting with minor for purpose of lewd act

Ivin Rhyne Jr., 42, Yuba City - Arrange meeting with a minor for lewd acts, attempt lewd acts with child, unlawful contact with minor

Derek Rudd, 45, Yuba City - Attempt lewd acts with child, arrange a meeting with minor for lewd acts, unlawful contact with minor

Nathaniel Sands, 37, West Sacramento - Attempt lewd acts with child, unlawful contact with minor, arrange meeting with minor for lewd acts

Related:

Ryan Coats, 41, Sacramento - Contact minor for sex, send harmful matter to minor, attempt lewd act with child, arrange meeting with a minor for lewd acts, solicit minor with controlled substance

Fifteen men were arrested in the last few weeks in Sutter County when they showed up at meetings in which they planned to give marijuana to or have sex with a child they met on Facebook, investigators said.

Those cases are just some of the arrests made in a series of sting operations conducted since February.

The suspects believed they had been chatting with a 14-year-old Yuba City girl or a 13-year-old boy. Some of them sent graphic photos. Some of them told the children what they planned to do to them. All of them allegedly showed up at an agreed-upon location — like a park or the mall — where they presumably expected to either give the child drugs or perform sexual acts, court documents show.



But the Facebook profiles did not actually belong to real children. They were created in May by Jason Parker, chief investigator with the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office, in the most recent phase of the child sex sting operation coordinated by that office.

At least a half-dozen other law enforcement agencies in the region have supported the efforts.



Agents also continued an operation that began in February, in which men responded to a Craigslist ad that suggested children were available for sex.

So far, 32 men, many of them local, have been arrested. Six other suspects have been identified. Investigators say each of them clearly communicated what they intended to do.

“We want to find guys out there that are hunting kids. They are in our community,” Parker said Tuesday. “Guys are looking through whatever social media — Craigslist, Backpage, Facebook — there’s predators out there and they’re finding kids through these avenues.”

“This is a real thing that’s happening,” said Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry. Last year, he prosecuted a case in which a man contacted a 13-year-old girl on Facebook and within hours had lured her out of the house and had sex with her, he said.

Generally, the conversations between suspects and the fictitious teenagers in the sting start through messages, move to phone calls and finally to in-person meetings, where the suspects are taken into custody, according to police affidavits for search warrants.

There’s no clear, singular profile of the people who responded to the Craigslist advertisement or engaged with the Facebook profiles. The demographics are reflective of the Yuba-Sutter population, Parker said.

They’ve been different races, of different economic status and work various jobs. Men and women responded, although there hasn’t been enough probable cause to arrest any women. Men in the Navy and Air Force have been arrested. Career criminals and those who’ve never been arrested before are now charged in Sutter County Superior Court as a result of the sting, District Attorney Amanda Hopper said.

Charges against the men arrested in the sting include attempting to furnish marijuana to a child, arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of lewd acts and attempted unlawful sexual intercourse with a child. Not all of the suspects are charged with the same crimes.

Some of the arrests have led to further investigations, including for possession of child pornography. Investigators also believe some of the suspects have victimized children in the past.

Only one man arrested in the sting has been convicted of a crime so far. Rigo Alexander Alvarado, 28, pleaded no contest to arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of lewd acts, a felony punishable by up to four years in prison. Probation with no jail time is also a possibility. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 19.

His attorney, Roberto Marquez, said the sting operation is perfectly legal.

“It’s legal, that doesn’t mean I agree that it’s providing a public service,” Marquez said. He represents two suspects caught in the sting.

“They don’t seem the type that are preying for juveniles to have sex with. I think the opportunity was given, and they should have known better. We’ve turned them into criminals when they ordinarily wouldn’t have acted on those impulses,” Marquez said.

On the other side, he said, “I’m hoping the word does get out, and people don’t engage in that conduct.”

Monica Vaughan is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. Contact her at 749-4783 and on Twitter @MonicaLVaughan.


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