Authorities caution online safety as sting operation leads to 187 arrests of child predators

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As summer break gets underway for children, Operation Broken Heart aims to keep kids safe from online child predators.

Police said summer break means children have more free time and less supervision when they're online. It makes sharing the results of a two-month sweep of suspected online child predators much more important and urgent.

"This operation resulted in the arrest of over 186 child predators. The arrests and subsequent charges include possession, manufacturing and distributing of child pornography," LAPD Capt. Julian Melendez said.

The monthslong joint task force effort was dubbed Operation Broken Heart. One investigation led police to a Los Angeles man who they said used an online video game to lure his young victims.

"In exchange for passcodes to this video game, he would ask them to send him child pornography - pictures of themselves," Melendez said.

Dennis Chambers, the president of the Buena Park School District board, was one of those arrested during the operation. He is suspected of trafficking child pornography. Investigators believe he may be attached to as many as six online cells nationwide.

"These groups that get together on certain social sites and would meet together on private forums, private chatrooms, where they would collaborate and exchange various images, videos consistent with child pornography," Fontana police Cpl. Jeremy Hale said.

An Orange County high school teacher was also arrested in the sting. In all, authorities served more than 387 search warrants and worked on 1,370 investigations.

Authorities said it's ultimately on the parents to monitor their children's activity online.

"We can't arrest our way out of this problem. If we're going to prevail, we have to practice prevention," said Jennifer Reyes, with Homeland Security.

Police said the number of arrests and prosecutions are expected to grow.
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