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400 sex offenders arrested in statewide sweep

November 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Sex offenders in violation of their parole were rounded up by law enforcement this week as part of a statewide sweep called "Operation Safe Playgrounds."During a Friday news conference in the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, authorities called the operation a success. Agents arrested 400 sex offenders this week alone for violating the terms of their parole.

State, federal and local law enforcement teamed up to crack down on convicted child molesters, rapists and other sex offenders considered the greatest risk to the public.

L.A. County has the most sex offenders of any other county in California.

The California Parole Apprehension Team (CPAT) fanned out across the state to arrest parolees who have cut off contact with their parole agents. Some of the sex offenders, who are now back in custody, had let the batteries run low on their GPS bracelets, making them harder to track.

CPAT also checked cell phones and computers of parolees and found some of them had violated the terms of their parole based on the content agents uncovered.

"We found individuals that had various amounts of pornography," said Erskine Richmond, a CPAT member. "One person, I believe, had child imaging and stuff like that. The rest had some type of pornography."

Nine of those arrested were in possession of child pornography, and 87 others had images of adult pornography.

Dozens more were in possession of drugs and weapons.

Authorities said some were logging on to social networking sites using pseudonyms to communicate with minors. Some of the parolees had crossed state lines, and others failed to register as sex offenders - both are violations of their parole.

Since "Operation Safe Playground" started in July, 575 paroled sex offenders have been rearrested for parole violations, most of those happening this week.

Authorities said they contacted about 1,000 other sex offenders who were not in violation of their parole, but they said the program sends a message that the authorities are watching their every move.


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