Investigation leads to 7 San Juan County arrests
FARMINGTON — Seven San Juan County residents were arrested during a two-month, statewide investigation into child sexual abuse.
Operation Broken Heart III, which began in April, led to 21 arrests in New Mexico, according to a press release from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General.
During the operation, the New Mexico Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted 63 search warrants and presented more than 150 cyber safety trainings and three public safety events, according to the release.
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office made more arrests during the operation than any other law enforcement agency.
The sheriff's office has three detectives who are part of the task force, which investigates people who solicit sex from minors or attempt to acquire child pornography, said sheriff's office detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln.
"Our guys did an outstanding job," he said.
The sheriff's office was also the first agency to arrest someone in connection to the operation. Lincoln said a juvenile teenage boy was arrested April 1 for allegedly soliciting sex on Facebook. He was charged with extortion and distribution of child pornography.
Shelton Charley, 25, was arrested days later on April 5 after he contacted an undercover sheriff's office detective on Facebook, believing the officer was a 14-year-old girl, according to Daily Times archives. Charley allegedly sent the detective explicit images and arranged to meet with the officer at a Farmington park, where he was arrested, according to court documents. He was charged with three counts of child solicitation.
Casper Cly, 25, of Los Alamos, was arrested April 7 after an undercover sheriff's office detective contacted him in response to an online ad titled "Hey Little Sis ...," according to Daily Times archives. He was charged with four counts of child solicitation.
The sheriff's office arrested Miguel Teran, 26, of Crouch Mesa, on April 23 on charges of child solicitation by electronic communication device and criminal sexual contact of a minor. He was initially charged April 12. Teran allegedly sent solicitous Facebook messages to a young relative and allegedly groped the boy while he was sleeping, according to Daily Times archives.
Mervin Yazzie, 32, of Tohatchi, was arrested on May 3 for allegedly videotaping students as they were undressing in a girl's locker room at Kirtland Middle School, where he worked as a janitor, according to Daily Times archives. He was charged with voyeurism.
Gerek Wilderson and Jason Justice were both arrested May 23. Wilderson was charged with criminal sexual contact of a minor, and Justice was charged with distribution and possession of child pornography.
Wilderson, 37, of Aztec, has been accused of sexually molesting two girls, including groping a 16-year-old relative, according to archives.
Justice, 32, of Bloomfield, was arrested when sheriff's office deputies tracked the IP address of a computer that had allegedly been used to download child pornography to Justice's house.
People who suspect child exploitation is taking place can contact the Office of the Attorney General at 1-866-627-3249 or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678 or missingkids.org.
Hannah Grover covers Aztec and Bloomfield, as well as general news, for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.