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Teacher among 6 Bay Area men arrested in "Operation Broken Heart" child exploitation sting

PIX Now - Morning Edition 3/22/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 3/22/24 12:23

Six men from across the Bay Area, including a high school teacher, were arrested for child exploitation following a sting operation where police posed as teens on social media, prosecutors said Friday.

According to Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton's office, the men were arrested between Feb. 26 and Mar. 7 as part of "Operation Broken Heart", a multi-agency operation which aimed to find people who were seeking to exploit minors for sex acts.

"Operation Broken Heart is an example of how the District Attorney's Office and law enforcement work together in making Contra Costa County safer from those who engage in criminal acts to harm children," Becton said in a statement.

One of the men arrested included 38-year-old Joseph Rudolfo Martinez, a teacher at Tennyson High School in Hayward. Prosecutors allege that Martinez began to chat with two undercover officers posing as 13-year-old girls and sent images of his genitals that were taken in his classroom.

On Mar. 1, authorities executed a search warrant at Martinez's home in Union City. Martinez was arrested and booked on suspicion of sending harmful material to a minor and the attempted production of child pornography.

Prosecutors said Martinez has since posted bail and that the DA's office is reviewing the case.

In the other cases, the suspects allegedly chatted with the undercover officers and were arrested as they showed up at locations in Danville to meet the purported teens.

The remaining suspects have been identified as 44-year-old James Paul Walsh of Hayward, 59-year-old Alexander Derrick Hellmund of Concord, 45-year-old Elmer Desiderio Ramirez-Lucha of Pittsburg, 27-year-old Mahmut Guzelsu of Benicia, and 27-year-old Brady Allen Godsey-Lally of Brentwood.

Prosecutors said Walsh was booked on suspicion of attempting to kidnap a minor for sex, attempted lewd acts with a minor, and arranging to meet a minor for sex. Walsh has posted bail as prosecutors review the case.

Hellmund, Ramirez-Lucha, Guzelsu and Godsey-Lally have been charged with felonies, including attempted lewd acts with a minor and arranging to meet a minor for sex. Prosecutors said Hellmund faces the additional charge of attempting to kidnap a minor.

Recently our agency took part in the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force for a...

Posted by City of Brentwood - Police Department on Thursday, March 14, 2024

According to Becton's office, Operation Broken Heart was the work of multiple local, state and federal agencies, including the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, the Danville Police Department, and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.    

The Brentwood Police Department, one of the agencies involved, said on social media March 14, "Our agency remains committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our community and would like to thank all of the participating agencies for their contributions last week in combatting child exploitation."

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