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Merced man caught in child porn sweep

A Merced man was among 61 people arrested Thursday in a child pornography sweep by state, federal and local law enforcement agencies.

Robin Blake, 52, of Merced, was accused or receiving and distributing child pornography.

Also charged with receipt, distributing and possessing child pornography were: Aaron Clark, 19, and Diana Orantes, 20, both of Porterville; Kevin Stanley, 33, of Earlimart; Robert Borel, 48, of Madera; Justin Dylan Gipson, 30, of Hanford; Larry Ochoa, 32, of Dinuba; Christopher Renga, 49, of Visalia; Michael Hollis, 50, of Bakersfield; Thomas Bones, 46, Charles McCarty, 60, and Theodore Meeker, 66, all of Fresno.

U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said during a press conference Thursday that investigators and prosecutors have seen a "profound change" in the sexual exploitation of children. "In the old days, we could lock our doors and windows to protect our children. Now sexual predators come electronically into our homes."

The investigation targeted known sex offenders because there is "an absolute connection between people who molest children and create and distribute child pornography," Scott said.

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US Attorney McGregor W. Scott announces arrests during press conference

The arrests capped a monthlong investigation involving officials from more than 30 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The investigation was conducted between July 27 and Aug. 22 and was coordinated under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice Project Safe Childhood program.

Project Safe Childhood seeks to increase federal prosecutions of violent sexual predators and to reduce child pornography and sexual solicitation of minors on the Internet.

The program also seeks to teach community groups, schools, parents and children how to safely use the Internet and avoid online sexual predators.

Scott said 16 of those arrested have been indicted on federal and state charges and/or federal criminal complaints have been lodged against them, mostly for creating, possessing and distributing child pornography and for child molestation.

Most of the 15 men and one woman who were indicted are from the Valley, but one man is from New York and another from Michigan.

Scott highlighted some of the cases:

Dimitrios Kastis, 53, of Whitestone, N.Y., formerly of Clovis, was charged with receiving, distributing and possessing child pornography.

The former youth soccer league coach had returned to Fresno for an Aug. 6 hearing in Fresno County Superior Court on three felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. After that hearing, he was arrested on other federal child pornography charges.

Jeffrey Alan Brohn, 42, of Flushing, Mich., was charged with using interstate commerce to persuade a minor to engage in criminal sexual conduct. Brohn allegedly traveled from La Crosse, Wis., to Tulare to engage in sexual activity with a minor. Scott said Brohn was convicted of possession of child pornography in 1997.

Jeffrey Scott Winkler, 37, of Hanford was charged with creating a Web site containing pictures of young children. Scott said Winkler posed as a talent scout and persuaded a mother in Pennsylvania to send him pictures of her naked daughter.

Ralph Anthony Maldonado, 19, of Fresno was charged with using a computer, a webcam and the Internet to transmit obscene images to minors.

During the investigation, law enforcement officials made contact with 377 people. Computers seized in the investigation are still being analyzed and more arrests could be made, Scott said.