Child predators arrested in sheriff sting

Undercover operation nets 15 arrests, including CHP officer and CDCR employee

Child predators arrested in sheriff stingBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

Over the course of several months, detectives from the Kern County Sheriff’s Office Special Victims Unit arrested 15 suspects in an undercover operation targeting online child predators.

Among the suspects, ages 21-54, were California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employee Ricardo Mancillas, 54, and California Highway Patrol Officer Brian Pardue, 51 – both of Bakersfield. Two Bakersfield registered sex offenders – Edward Daniel Gonzales, 44, and Donald Lee Self, 44,– were also arrested.

According to a KCSO release, undercover detectives posed as minors through various online applications and websites where they were “contacted by individuals interested in the sexual exploitation of children.” After receiving numerous correspondences from suspected child predators, detectives agreed to meet the suspects where they were arrested. Others were located and arrested in their homes.

“Due to COVID-19, many children are at an increased risk of harm as their lives move increasingly online,” said the release. “Spending more time online can leave children vulnerable to sexual exploitation and grooming by predators looking to exploit the pandemic. Special Victims Unit detectives have remained vigilant and they recognize the increased threat posed by online predators during this time.

“The sheriff’s office continues to adapt during this unprecedented public-health pandemic in the interest of protecting our community’s children and bringing justice to those who commit these repugnant crimes.”

“This is an important message for our community and for parents,” said Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood during a press conference on Monday. “We realize these children are at home and they’re not getting a lot of social interaction with children their age. So where are they going to get that? Online.

“We released the names of these suspects because we think it’s important for the public to know.”

Other arrests include Jeffrey Chad Perez, 30, of Lake Isabella; Albert Wesley Blankenship, 49, of Roseburg, Ore., Michael Swayne Peterson, 26, of Arvin, Everado Viramontes, 42, of Delano and Devon Gary Armstrong, 25, Noah Richard Gause, 21, Mathew Porcho, 35, Anthony Charles Morales, 27, Gene Allen Brimage, 45, Edgar Ubay Mati Jr., 30, and Miguel Martinez, 29, of Bakersfield.

Youngblood said it’s important for parents to have a conversation with their children to help deter this predatory behavior.

“You have to be frank, open and honest – there are people out there pretending to be someone that they’re not and there are people out there that will hurt you,” said Youngblood. “This is some serious stuff that you can’t hide from your children. It’s extremely important in today’s world … we encourage parents to be actively involved. You need to have their passwords and you need to know what your child is doing on the computer.”

He added that adults can more quickly pick up on “grooming” behavior by predators that might seem innocuous to a child.

“If a person talking to your child brings up alcohol or what kind of clothes they wear … those are clues,” he said. “You need to make sure you block that person. And if you find something more serious, we need to know about it. We want to prevent [abuse] from happening, rather than find out who did it.”

Pictured: Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood

Story First Published: 2020-08-07