Elverta Resident Arrested in Child Predator Sting

In a significant crackdown on child predators, the Turlock Police Department apprehended 17 individuals on January 5th and 6th, following an undercover online operation. The arrests, concentrated in the Turlock region with 12 local individuals and five from outside the county, resulted in each suspect being detained at the Stanislaus County Jail, with the majority facing a bail amount of $500,000.

The suspects, ranging in age from 19 to 54, were identified as:

  • Fernando De La Cruz Martinez, 36, of Elverta
  • Antoni Shahbaz Yangejeh, 35, of Turlock
  • Juan Viera, Jr., 29, of Modesto
  • Devin Greer Dacanay, 22, of Turlock
  • Aaron Doub, 41, of Turlock
  • Justin Velez, 37, of Modesto
  • Mario de Jesus, 37, of Turlock
  • Armando Cardenas, 32, of Atwater
  • Leopoldo Garcia Aquino, 25, of Livingston
  • Salvador Nunez, 28, of Turlock
  • Cesar Linarez, Jr., 25, of Modesto
  • Bryce Wilkinson, 19, of Modesto
  • Gerad Slayton, 42, of Modesto
  • Jose Herrera Sanchez, 54, of Stevenson
  • Andrew Godinez, 21, of Delhi
  • Jesus Cerna Bernabe, 29, of Newman
  • Anthony Morrisette, 41, of Oakdale

They are all facing charges for allegedly attempting to engage in sexual activities with minors.

Top row, from left: Antoni Shahbaz Yangejeh, Juan Viera, Jr., Fernando de la Cruz Martinez, Justin Velez, Devin Greer Dacany, Aaron Doub
Middle row, from left: Armando Cardenas, Leopoldo Garcia Aquino, Cesar Linarez, Jr., Mario de Jesus, Jose Herrera Sanchez
Bottom Row, from left: Salvador Nunez, Bryce Wilkinson, Gerad Slayton, Andrew Godinez, Jesus Cerna Bernabe, Anthony Morrisette

Turlock Police Chief Jason Hedden expressed his pride in the meticulous planning and execution of this sting operation, highlighting the diligent work of Detective Gina Giovacchini and the team in preventing potential harm to the community’s children.

Additionally, in a separate but equally concerning case in Stanislaus County, a 16-year-old who was reported missing in August was later found in the Idaho residence of 27-year-old Cristian Ceja from Turlock. Ceja is now facing several charges, including using electronic communication to solicit a minor for sexual gratification and harboring a runaway, with the possibility of additional charges in Idaho and California.

Sgt. Amar Gandhi of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, reflecting on the larger issue, emphasized the persistent danger, pointing out that while the 17 arrests are substantial, they represent just a small fraction of the overall threat. The Sacramento Valley Internet Crimes Against Children task force played a crucial role in the Turlock sting, underlining the seriousness of online threats to children.

In light of these incidents, experts and law enforcement officials are urging parents and guardians to actively engage in conversations with their children about online safety, recognize potential red flags, and establish robust safety plans before children access the internet. As Sgt. Gandhi noted, the ubiquity of communication features in online platforms, including seemingly innocent games, presents a continual risk, with predators relentlessly seeking opportunities to exploit.

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