Federal agents have arrested a Salinas man and rescued his alleged young victim, ending an international manhunt for a child pornographer, authorities announced Thursday.
David J. Stevens, 58, was taken into custody in Salinas by Homeland Security Investigations special agents and investigators with the Salinas Police Department on Wednesday as part of the international Operation Predator case -- a nationwide HSI run crackdown to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers.
Authorities said they also rescued a child victim believed to be 7 to 9 years old who was identified in the case.
According to the criminal complaint filed by HSI in Washington, D.C., four videos of child pornography linked to Stevens with date stamps of April 14 and 27 were first discovered by the Danish National Police on May 3 and referred to U.S. law enforcement for further investigation. Federal authorities said Stevens was taken into custody after a member of the public called in a lead to ICE's tip line.
"This predator was arrested very quickly after the member of the public came forward to identify him," said Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin in a prepared statement. "The suspect was captured quickly and vital evidence of his crimes was recovered. “
Following Stevens' arrest, investigators obtained a search warrant for the defendant's Salinas residence where they seized additional evidence related to the case. Based upon interviews with witnesses, HSI special agents believe there may be additional unidentified child victims and are asking anyone with further information to call ICE's tip line - 1-866-347-2423 or the Salinas Police Department's Investigations Division at 1-831-758-7226.
The public may also contact the Salinas Police Department anonymously by calling 1-831-775-4222 or by contacting the We-Tip line at 1-800-78-CRIME.
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