Nationwide sting targets child sex offenses

Multiple people have been arrested in the Bay Area for child pornography or attempting to arrange sexual contact with children under 14 in recent months as part of a nationwide program called Operation Broken Heart, Contra Costa County prosecutors said.

The multi-agency collaboration targeted suspects believed to be distributing child pornography online or traveling to locations to meet with minors and engage in sexual activity during March, April and May.

A Milpitas man was arrested at a hotel in Pleasanton on April 6. Russell Meirose had allegedly been chatting online with an undercover officer who had convinced him he was talking to a 13-year-old girl. Investigators say he had enticed the girl to meet him for sex and had rented the room for that purpose.

Meirose has been charged with attempted lewd acts with a child and arranging to meet a minor for sex, both of which are felonies, according to the district attorney’s office.

Nearly two weeks later, a fourth-grade teacher named Andrew Lund was arrested for allegedly sending “harmful material” to an undercover agent he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. He had also attempted to arrange to meet that girl for sex, investigators said.

They searched his home and allegedly found child porn on his phone. He’s since been charged with possession of child porn, sending harmful material to a minor and other offenses, according to prosecutors.

Lund was employed at Glen Cove Elementary in Vallejo, but officials at Vallejo Unified School District said he was put on leave after his April 19 arrest. Then on June 6 the school board accepted Lund’s resignation.

Raymond Myers was arrested after investigators allegedly found child pornography on devices while serving a warrant at a home in the 200 block of Hillside Avenue in Antioch on May 25. An arrest date was not disclosed, and prosecutors say the district attorney is still reviewing the case for potential charges.

At least two other search warrants were served that day, including an address in the 1200 block of Elmwood Drive in Walnut Creek and an address on Brush Creek Drive on Pittsburg. Prosecutors say that child porn was found at both locations, but did not disclose any arrests or criminal charges associated with those search warrants.

The operations were conducted by the Contra Costa County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as well as the Silicon Valley Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and numerous local law enforcement agencies, with assistance from the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the U.S. Secret Service and Homeland Security Investigations, a department of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

In addition to the searches and arrests, officials with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force participated in a school outreach program that provided information about the risks associated with smartphones and social media for 140 parents and 300 students at six schools during the same three-month period.