FRESNO, CA – A man who was out of jail on bail for another crime is now back in jail, this time for raping and molesting a 15-year-old girl. Detectives with the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force have arrested 26-year-old Christopher Contreras of Fresno. He faces charges of rape and child molestation, arranging to meet with a minor to engage in sex and committing a felony while out on bail.
Detectives were made aware of a 15 year old girl who was possibly the victim of sexual abuse. During the investigation, detectives learned Christopher Contreras was responsible for raping the teenager. A search warrant was issued for Contreras’ home. There he was arrested and electronic devices were seized, which will be analyzed. Specific agencies involved in this investigation include: The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, Fresno Police, the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Contreras was one of 34 men arrested during the undercover operation “COVID Chat Down,” which was conducted by the ICAC Task Force from July 20 to August 2, 2020. Contreras spent less than a day in jail and was released on August 1st after posting bond totaling $1,000.
Operation COVID Chat Down was a multi-agency effort developed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, where internet usage increased across the country with people of all ages. Children in particular have engaged more with people through social media sites due to school closures and a reduction in extra-curricular activities. A potential danger of being online more often is an encounter with a sexual predator who is seeking out relationships with children.
To combat the problem, detectives with the ICAC Task Force and special agents with HSI constructed an operation to identify, contact and arrest anyone who may be trying to target a child for sex. 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.
So far in 2020, the ICAC Task Force has made a little more than 100 arrests related to the distribution and possession of child pornography, including images of children being raped. In 2019, ICAC made a total of 50 arrests. Most of these arrests occur with victims not being known due to this violent material being produced all around the world and then shared across the internet. However, ICAC detectives are well-aware that suspects who view child pornography can easily progress into hands-on crimes against children. Operation “COVID Chat Down” is a prime example of how sexual behavior can escalate.
Law enforcement would like to remind the public to be vigilant when it comes to visiting websites and social media outlets. Parents should also monitor their children’s internet usage and be aware of the software apps they are using. Parents should keep the dialogue open with their children in order to build trust. Online predators often pretend to be someone else in order to lure their victims in and take advantage of them. Teach children to be wary of the person on the other end of the chat line; many times people are not who they say they are. Report any suspicious behavior right away to law enforcement or file a cyber tip through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
ICAC is comprised of 64 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies spread throughout nine counties in the Central Valley. It is dedicated to protecting children online and investigating crimes committed against children, which are facilitated by the Internet and computer usage.
Detectives believe Contreras may have victimized other children, but the crimes have not been reported. If you have any additional information about Christopher Contreras, please report it to Sgt. Chad Stokes at (559) 600-8144, Valley Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-7867, www.valleycrimestoppers.org You will remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.