Massive Child Porn Arrests Rock Southern California

Gretchen Gallen
SANTA ANA, Calif. – In a case that spans throughout Southern California, authorities have arrested 47 people allegedly involved in the trade and possession of child pornography. The sweeping arrests were part of yearlong investigation by Operation Ore that included Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.

With the majority of the suspects originating in Orange County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has declared the arrests one of the largest in recent California history.

Two dozen suspects currently face federal child porn possession and distribution charges in connection with the sweep, including a man named Michael Drake who is accused of exchanging child porn over the Internet with two other suspects believed to have exploited their own children in the making of the content.

According to U.S. Customs Enforcement officials, several of the suspects, including Drake, have already made appearances in federal court in Santa Ana.

Nine other suspects, facing criminal charges, have already agreed to plead guilty to the charges and 22 suspects, identified as foreign nationals that have already served time as sex offenders have been re-arrested and face deportation based on immigration violations.

Among those indicted on child porn charges include a school bus driver, a boy’s soccer coach and a security guard.

In some instances, content seized by authorities included sexually explicit depictions of babies and toddlers

Possession charges for child pornography carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison. The penalty for distribution ranges from five to 20 years.