As part of a crackdown to deport foreign nationals who prey on children, federal agents arrested 25 suspected sex offenders in a three-day sting operation in the Los Angeles area, officials said Thursday.
Eleven of the suspects were found to be living in the Los Angeles area illegally, officials said. The other 14 were legal permanent residents but face deportation for their criminal convictions.
"These pedophiles pose a serious threat to the well-being of our children, our families and our communities," Robert Schoch, special agent-in-charge for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office of investigations in Los Angeles, said in a statement. "We can not only take them off the streets, but we can seek to have them sent out of the country."
Among those arrested was Jose Angel Pakas-Murcia, 46, a Honduran national who had been deported after serving time for sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in Florida. He faces prosecution for felony reentry.
Gabino Chavez-Rosales, a 43-year-old Mexican national with a prior conviction for lewd acts with a minor, also was arrested on suspicion of attempting to kidnap a girl playing in a laundromat parking lot. He faces deportation.
Also taken into custody was Jose Luis Rodriguez-Lucatero, 41, who entered the country illegally from Mexico after his conviction for the attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl.
The arrests, made this week, are the latest to be announced in Los Angeles as part of Operation Predator. Since July 2003, the program has led to the arrest of more than 8,200 sex offenders nationwide, including 1,100 in the Los Angeles area.
Schoch said agents "will continue to work closely with the U.S. attorney's office and our other law enforcement partners to target those who prey on the children of this community."