Child predator arrests in Turlock highlight online chat safety importance

Online chat safety a key issue after several arrests of child predators

TURLOCK — Investigators arrested 17 men in an online chat operation aimed at catching predators targeting children for sexual activity, the Turlock Police Department said Monday.

Of those arrested, a dozen were local residents while the other five were out-of-county residents. Each suspect has since been booked into the Stanislaus County Jail where police say most are being held on a bail of $500,000.

The operation was conducted on January 5 and 6.

Here is a list of those who were arrested:

Antoni Shahbaz Yangejeh, 35, of Turlock
Juan Viera, Jr., 29, of Modesto
Fernando De La Cruz Martinez, 36 of Elverta
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

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

All suspects face charges related to contacting a minor with intent to have sex with them, police said.

"This operation was the culmination of months of planning by the Turlock Police Department and cooperating agencies. I am proud of Detective Gina Giovacchini and our team for their efforts to intercept those looking to harm children in our community," Turlock Police Chief Jason Hedden said.

Also in Stanislaus County, exploitation was at the center of a 16-year-old's disappearance. The teen was reported a runaway in August and then found months later, hundreds of miles away in the Idaho home of 27-year-old Cristian Ceja from Turlock.

Ceja faces multiple charges including contacting a minor using an electronic device for the purpose of sexual gratification and a misdemeanor for providing shelter to a runaway. Additional charges may be pending in Idaho and California. 

The Sacramento Valley Internet Crimes Against Children task force assisted with the online chat sting in Turlock. The bust was its own operation separate from the teen runaway.

"This problem isn't going away," said Sgt. Amar Gandhi with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Office. "While 17 arrests are very significant, it's a drop in the bucket."

Both cases highlight the dangers children face online.

Experts say conversation and supervision can help prevent these dangers. The Department of Justice recommends creating a safety plan with children before they get online and talking with them about red flags.

"Even some of these innocent online games have conversation features," Sgt. Gandhi said. "Predators know about it and prey on everybody."

Read more

We and our partners use cookies to understand how you use our site, improve your experience and serve you personalized content and advertising. Read about how we use cookies in our cookie policy and how you can control them by clicking Manage Settings. By continuing to use this site, you accept these cookies.