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Thursday, November 1, 2012
Statewide Sweep for Sex Offender Parole Violations in Southern California
State parole agents went door-to-door Wednesday night checking to make sure local sex offenders and convicted child molesters on parole were in compliance.
While kids were out playing and trick-or-treating in neighborhoods like Chula Vista, agents were busy knocking on doors and making arrests for “Operation Boo.”
With so many kids out and about, authorities fear it could mean lots of targets for convicted sex offenders.
Instead, Halloween turned out to be a big night for state parole agents who were looking for any violation at all on this high-profile holiday.
“It is zero tolerance and anything we find that’s illegal that they have in their possession or in violation of their conditions, they will go into custody,” explained agent Carlos Meneses with the State Parole Division.
For instance, 22-year-old Brian Lopez was convicted of raping a 12-year-old disabled girl. Agents searched his apartment and computer Wednesday night during “Operation Boo.”
Turns out, Lopez was in possession of spice, the synthetic marijuana drug. Agents cut off Lopez’s GPS monitor and took him into custody.
Next, agents checked in on a rapist and former Mexican Mafia gang member in San Diego.
“We just [have to] be more aware of our surroundings when we go in. These guys often have weapons hidden in the house,” explained Meneses.
The agent’s prediction was right, although it was only a pellet gun inside the sex offender’s home. He too was arrested.
“It looks like a real gun, he has gang ties. He could use the gun to commit a crime even though it’s a fake crime. We take that very seriously,” added Meneses.
Parents taking their children trick-or-treating felt a sense of ease in Chula Vista as agents patrolled the area.
“If they are violating their parole, they should be sent back to jail. In my opinion, I don’t think they should have been released in the first place,” Chula Vista resident Charlie Felkins told NBC 7.
On Thursday, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation released the official statewide stats for “Operation Boo.”
Agents checked on 1,703 sex offenders across California on Halloween night, which resulted in a total of 85 arrests. In San Diego, San Bernadino and Riverside, Orange and Imperial counties 875 searches were conducted, yielding a total of 37 arrests, officials said.