Child predator bust suspects include 3 Ridgecrest residents

Child predator bust suspects include 3 Ridgecrest residentsBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

After a months-long undercover operation, detectives with the Ridgecrest Police Department arrested eight suspected child predators, three of whom are Ridgecrest residents.

According to a Jan. 15 RPD release, detectives posed as minor children on various social media platforms, meant to target online child predators and anyone who sought to exploit children. Several adults reportedly engaged in sexually explicit conversations with the minor decoy, some wanting to meet with the child with sexual intent and traveling to do so.

From September through November of 2020, officers arrested the following suspects for soliciting lewd acts with a minor:

•Ridgecrest residents Brian Ballard (32 years old), Alan Lucas Hargrove (24) and David Tyson McDaniel (36)

•Tehachapi resident James Fredrick Buge (49)

•Pearblossom resident Andrew Charles Trujillo (26)

•California City resident David Nathan Walters (35)

•Modesto resident Denzil Clark Rout, Jr. (38)

•Mammoth Lakes resident Avidan Daniel Pell (31)

“Although we are isolated here in Ridgecrest, many of the suspects came here from other cities to engage in illegal activity with minors,” said the release. Police say that predators are taking advantage of increased social media activity during the pandemic to exploit children.

“It is recommended for parents to keep a close eye on what social media applications our children are using and how often they use it,” said the release. “With children being at home because of the pandemic, and with the increased use of technology (cellphones, laptops, computers, etc.) while being locked down, this could expose children to be sexually exploited or abused by means of the internet.”

Anybody with concerns about suspicious social media activity regarding minors is urged to contact the Ridgecrest Police Department.

Story First Published: 2021-01-22