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martedì 2 maggio 2017
Operation Child Guardian
A former senior Border Patrol agent and five Laredoans were among the 13 suspected child predators arrested in 2016 as part of an undercover operation initiated by the Webb County Sheriff’s Office, according to records obtained by the Laredo Morning Times.
Operation Child Guardian, an initiative that counters crimes against children, produced the arrests of 13 men between January and December 2016.
Of those arrested, four have been sentenced to serve prison time; four have entered guilty pleas in federal court and are awaiting their sentences; three have pending cases in federal court; and charges against two have been dismissed, according to court records.
More than 61 child predators have been taken off the streets since the operation’s inception in 2009, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“Children are the victims, and we are bringing justice to them and their families,” Sheriff Martin Cuellar said regarding the initiative.
“Predators in our community will be brought to justice,” he added.
The initiative includes the collaboration of local, state and federal agencies, including Homeland Security, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Webb County District Attorney’s Office.
Alton Zerie Brister, 49, of Harker Heights, Texas, was arrested Oct. 17 after traveling to a local business with the intent of engaging in sex with a 14-year-old girl. During a post-arrest, Brister admitted to sending pictures of his private parts to an undercover agent, according to the criminal complaint.
“Brister further stated that he felt it was OK to engage in sexual activity with the 14-year-old girl because it was a family and nobody was going to get hurt,” the complaint states.
On March 31, Brister pleaded guilty in federal court to coercion and enticement of a minor. He has not yet been sentenced.
Christopher Cobb, 40, of Georgia, was arrested June 24 at a local business after traveling to Laredo to meet a girl he intended to engage in sex with.
Cobb had been exchanging communications for about a month before his arrest with an undercover agent who he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. He detailed his plans to engage in oral sex with her. Cobb pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor on Sept. 2.
Last week, Cobb was sentenced to 10 years in prison followed by 15 years supervision upon his release.
Salvador Contreras, 50, of Del Rio, Texas, was arrested Dec. 2 after traveling from Del Rio to Cotulla to meet who he believed to be the mother of two young girls. Court records state he believed he had been chatting with a mother who would give him access to her girls, ages 8 and 14, to have sex with them.
Instead, he encountered authorities who were waiting to arrest him.
Contreras, a former senior Border Patrol agent who was stationed in Del Rio, resigned following his arrest. He pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor March 8 in federal court. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June.
Jorge Dominguez, 23, of Laredo, was arrested April 14, 2016 after Homeland Security Investigations special agents received information from the Webb County Sheriff’s Office and HSI in Brownsville that an individual residing in the 500 block of Basswood may be in possession of child pornography, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
In May, a grand jury indicted him on charges of receipt, distribution and possession of child pornograhy. Dominguez has pleaded not guilty to the charges. On Friday, counsel for Dominguez filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for lack of a speedy trial.
Christopher Earl Dunn, 48, of Sweetwater, Texas, was arrested Dec. 16 after having a conversation online with an undercover agent for more than a year before traveling 59 miles with the intent of meeting two underage girls.
“From March 5, 2015 to Dec. 16, 2016, Dunn communicated through texts, emails and online chat detailing his intended plans to engage in sexual acts with a 15-year-old girl and a 13-year-old girl,” the criminal complaint states.
It adds, “during these communications, Dunn sent the HSI agent nude pictures of himself and spoke about the nervousness of being detected by law enforcement.”
On Feb. 7, Dunn pleaded guilty to coercion and enticement of a minor in federal court. He has not yet been sentenced.
Ricardo Elias Fernandez, 30, of Laredo, was arrested May 11 after HSI special agents received information from the Webb County Sheriff’s Office and HSI-El Paso that an individual residing in the 2500 block of Jackson Street was in possession of child pornography.
On June 3, 2015, undercover agents were able to download multiple videos of child pornography from an IP address that originated from Fernandez’s residence, the complaint states.