Twelve Charged with Numerous Crimes Against Children

By Derek Obregon

Posted September 13, 2013 in Web Only
TheWatchDog12Twelve Inland Empire residents face federal charges for some of the worst crimes imaginable. Committing acts of violence and theft between adults is one thing, but these residents did far worse: they stole the innocence away from children. That can never be given back, no matter how many people get arrested.

These charges come from a coordinated federal effort dubbed “Operation Predator.” It had everyone involved: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.

Darian Tillman of Corona was one of the suspects arrested according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Ami Sheth. “Tillman was impersonating somebody else and meeting minors—generally males, as far as we know—online using various messenger apps and directing them to take sexually explicit photographs of themselves as well as videos and send them to him,” Sheth said. “If they ever refused to do that, the defendant would threaten the victims with potential exposure of those photographs to family members.”

This was just one man, but there were plenty of others that were charged.

From the Riverside county: Ryan Christopher Edgecomb of Murrieta was indicted for distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. Christine Diane Foster of Fontana was indicted for sexual exploitation of a child and distribution of child pornography. Tabitha Walls and Kenyati Potts were indicted for child sex trafficking and transporting minors with intent to engage in criminal activity. All of these suspects are scheduled for an arraignment hearing at various times in the next couple of weeks in federal court in Riverside.

From the Desert areas: Theodore William Reed of Victorville has a warrant out for his arrest for failure to register as a sex offender. Jarrett Wayne Martindale of Palm Desert was indicted for distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. Martindale pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 21. Michael Weitzel, also from Palm Desert, was charged with possession of child pornography. A plea agreement has been filed where Weitzel agreed to plead guilty as charged.

Others from surrounding areas: Michael Lee Lewis from Ontario was indicted for advertising, distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. John Michael Dragan of Moreno Valley was indicted for receiving and possessing child pornography and Theron Charles Barron of Rialto was indicted for distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. A plea agreement has been filed where Barron agrees to plead guilty to possession of child pornography.

Sheth said that the investigations on these twelve cases are still ongoing and since there may be more unidentified juvenile victims, anyone with relevant information is asked to contact law enforcement officials.


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