Following the arrest of the Stockton Mayor on child endangerment and delinquency charges, nearby Sutter County announced the arrest of 32 adults in a child sex sting operation.
Breitbart News reported on August 4 that the Stockton’s 41-year-old Republican Mayor, Anthony Silva, was arrested 4 by the city’s Silver Lake Family Camp on charges of cruelty, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, making child recordings, providing alcohol to a minor and child endangerment.
Just 50 miles away Sutter County law enforcement announced on August 5 that a successful sting operation had netted the arrest of 32 child predators, including a Yuba City Planning Commissioner Ivin Rhyne Jr., who works with the California Energy Commission. After jail processing, Rhyne resigned his Planning Commission post.
The District Attorney’s of Amador and Sutter Counties are being tight-lipped about any potential connections between the two investigations.
The Sutter County task force was assembled to investigate and prosecute child sex crimes by District Attorney Amanda Hopper. Numerous local law enforcement agencies were involved including the Sheriff’s Office, the Yuba City Police Department and the non-for-profit Operation Underground Railroad.
DA Hopper told the local Appeal-Democrat newspaper, “Much of public safety is reacting to crime after it occurs. This operation was proactive.” Hopper stated that the arrests were part of a months-long, resource-intensive operation that has resulted in criminal charges also being filed against five other men.
In a series of Internet ruses that began in February, police tried to find active predators by posting Facebook profiles of children and ads on Craig’s List. All the suspects believed they had been chatting with children or sending graphic photos to what they thought were girls age 9 to 14 and a 13-year-old boy.
According to police affidavits for search warrants, the Internet conversations between the suspects and the fictitious children in sting operations start through messages, move to phone calls and finally to in-person meetings, where the alleged predators are arrested when they showed up at an agreed-upon location — like a park or the mall — to either give a child drugs or perform sexual acts.
Jason Parker, Chief Investigator for the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office, stated, “They’re predators in our community. They’re looking for kids to have sex with. Grown men are looking for children to have sex with.”
Deputy District Attorney Clint Curry said the demographics of the suspects that responded to the Craigslist advertisements or engaged with the Facebook profiles are reflective of the Yuba-Sutter population. Parker stated:
“Guys are looking through whatever social media — Craigslist, Backpage, Facebook — there’s predators out there and they’re finding kids through these avenues. They’ve been different races, of different economic status and work various jobs.”
District Attorney Amanda Hopper said that men and women responded in the sting, although there hasn’t been enough probable cause to arrest any women. Men in the Navy and Air Force, career criminals and those who’ve never been arrested before have been arrested and now charged in Sutter County Superior Court.
The suspects arrested are being charged with various offenses including attempting to furnish marijuana to a child, arranging a meeting with a minor for the purpose of lewd acts and attempted unlawful sexual intercourse with a child.
Some of the arrests have led to further investigations, including for possession of child pornography. Investigators also believe some of the suspects have victimized children in the past.