BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Detectives arrested 15 people, including a California Highway Patrol officer and a prison employee, after they allegedly tried to meet minors to engage in sex acts.
Kern County Sheriff’s Office investigators posed as children online to meet the suspected predators, who ranged in age from 21 to 54 years old.
“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.
“This is the old saying, ‘if you build it they’ll come,'” Sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a press conference Monday. “You get on the internet and act like a juvenile and they will come. These people cannot help themselves, they can’t control themselves.”
Those arrested include two registered sex offenders, a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employee and a CHP officer, according to the release.
More than a week ago, the district attorney’s office announced the arrest of CHP officer Brian Pardue, 51.
The CDCR employee was identified as 54-year-old Ricardo Mancillas, the release said. According to CDCR, Mancillas is currently on a leave of absence from his position as an Information Technology Specialist 1 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.