FRESNO, County — Just days after the Kern County Sheriff's Office announced 15 predators were arrested as a result of an undercover operation, Fresno County Sheriff Officials announced the arrest of 34 men from Central Valley for various charges related to arranging to meet with a child for sex.
Fresno sheriffs said the arrests are a result of the undercover operation “COVID Chat Down,” which was conducted by the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force from July 20 to August 2.
Detectives used technology against these predators, posing as 12 and 13-year-old boys and girls, conversing with men through online apps. During their conversations, these suspects used sexually explicit language and sent graphic photos to the detective pretending to be a child.
Once the suspect requested to meet with the child, detectives arrived at a predetermined location and arrested them.
No actual children were ever used or placed into danger during the operation.
One of the most notable arrests was that of 55-year-old Thomas Binford of Clovis. Binford is a registered sex offender, who was previously arrested for sexually assaulting a child. Along with the crime of trying to meet with a child for sex, detectives found Binford to be in possession of child pornography. This included images of infant bondage and infant rape.
Another man arrested had intentions of having unprotected sex with a 13-year-old girl. He later told detectives he is HIV positive.
Operation “COVID Chat Down” remains an ongoing investigation and more arrests could be made.