Eleven people were arrested on child pornography charges in San Jose and Santa Clara on Friday following a multi-agency investigation into online crimes against children, police said Monday.
The six-week investigation, titled "Operation Peer Block," was lead by the San Jose Police Department's Child Exploitation Detail and the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Law enforcement agencies throughout the Bay Area participated.
"Primarily our concern at this point is to identify children in San Jose who may have been abused by people with interest in children," police Detective Kendra Nunes said at a news conference today.
Nunes was one of four investigators who used web crawling software and a forensics program to search the Internet for sexually explicit digital photographs of children between 2 and 12 years old and then tracked the photographs to the people trading them.
On Friday, police served 15 search warrants at the identified suspects'homes, where in some cases officers matched the information they found online to the suspects' home computers, Nunes said.
"We're talking about a sadistic, demeaning, violent type of photography," San Jose Police Chief Rob Davis said. "You can look at the eyes of the children in these photos and it turns your stomach."
The suspects arrested were Nathan Smith, 31, of Santa Clara; and San Jose residents Steven Rao, 51; Calvin Bolin, 60; Luis Silva, 21; Modesto Robledo, 40; Jason Conversa, 34; Roger Schultz, 65; Alireza Farahani, 29; Janine Carter, 39; Michael Lozano, 19; and an unidentified 17-year-old boy.
All were booked on child pornography charges, and some suspects were additionally charged with drug offenses, Nunes said.
Two other people were arrested on unrelated charges because they happened to be at the home of a suspect arrested on child pornography charges, she said.
Davis said possession, distribution and production of child pornography are felony offenses.
"If you choose to share child pornography and victimize our children in the Bay Area, we're going to come after you," he said. "We will put you in prison."
Anyone whose child might have been a victim of online pornography is encouraged to contact the San Jose Police Department's Child Exploitation Detail at (408) 277-4102.
Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-STOP (7867); the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678; or visit www.cybertipline.com.
Operation Peer Block participating agencies included the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office, Santa Clara County Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement Task Force, Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, FBI, and San Mateo, Fremont, Palo Alto, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Los Altos, Oakland, and Morgan Hill Police Departments.
Bay City News