UNITED STATES NEWS

Undercover operation nets arrests as New Mexico’s top prosecutor blames Meta for online predators

May 8, 2024, 3:06 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s top prosecutor announced charges Wednesday against three men who are accused of using Meta’s social media platforms to target and solicit sex with underage children.

The arrests are the result of a monthslong undercover operation in which the suspects connected with decoy accounts that were set up by the state Department of Justice. The investigation began in December around the time the state filed a civil lawsuit against the social media giant, claiming Meta was failing to take basic precautionary measures to ensure children were safe on its platforms.

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez said during a news conference Wednesday that the suspects communicated and exchanged explicit sexual content through Facebook’s messenger app and were clear in expressing a sexual interest in children.

“It’s extraordinarily concerning to us just how easily these individuals found the undercover personas that were created,” Torrez said. “And it is, frankly, I think a wakeup call for all of us to understand just how serious these kinds of threats are.”

He placed blame on Meta executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and suggested that the company was putting profits above the interests of parents and children.

“For those of us who are engaged in this work, we are simply tired of the rhetoric,” he said. “We are tired of the assurances that have been given to members of our communities, to members of Congress, to policymakers that all reasonable steps have been taken to ensure that this type of behavior doesn’t occur.”

Meta disputed the allegations and reiterated Wednesday that it uses technology to prevent suspicious adults from finding or interacting with children and teens on its apps and that it works with law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting offenders.

The company also said it has hired child safety experts, reports content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and shares information and tools with others to help root out predators.

“This is an ongoing fight, where determined criminals evolve their tactics across platforms to try and evade protections,” Meta said in an emailed statement.

While the state attorney general’s office will continue working to identify predators who are targeting children, Torrez said it’s too early to say whether that work will have a bearing on the civil litigation.

As part of that lawsuit, New Mexico prosecutors say they have uncovered internal documents in which Meta employees estimate about 100,000 children every day are subjected to sexual harassment on the company’s platforms.

The three defendants in the criminal case were identified as Fernando Clyde, Marlon Kellywood and Christopher Reynolds. Prosecutors are seeking to detain them pending trial on charges that include child solicitation by an electronic communication device.

Hearings have yet to be scheduled, and court records did not list attorneys who could speak on behalf of Clyde and Kellywood. A message was left with the public defender’s office, which is representing Reynolds.

United States News

...

KSL Podcasts/Ben Kuebrich

Under scrutiny: Carl Everett and the intricate FBI investigation

Episode 2 of "Ransom: Position of Trust" examines early suspects in the Carl Everett case. Listen now on your favorite podcast app.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Hamas rocket attack from Gaza sets off air raid sirens in Tel Aviv for the first time in months

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Hamas fired a barrage of rockets from Gaza that set off air raid sirens as far away as Tel Aviv for the first time in months on Sunday in a show of resilience more than seven months into Israel’s massive air, sea and ground offensive. There were no immediate […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

3 falcon chicks hatch atop the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City

NEW YORK (AP) — Three peregrine falcon chicks have hatched in a nest built at the top of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, officials said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority Bridges and Tunnels said Friday that the chicks hatched in a nesting box set up by the agency atop a 693-foot-tall (211-meter-tall) tower on […]

17 hours ago

Associated Press

Baltimore police fatally shoot a man who pulls gun during questioning; detective injured

BALTIMORE (AP) — Police officers in Baltimore fatally shot a man who pulled a gun while they questioned him in a different shooting, authorities said. A detective was shot in the chest, and his protective vest likely saved his life, Police Commissioner Richard Worley told reporters. Police were on the city’s south side investigating a […]

18 hours ago

Associated Press

California teenager arrested after crowd pounded and kicked a deputy’s car

HIGHLAND, Calif. (AP) — A teenager was taken into custody after a crowd of young people swarmed a deputy’s patrol car earlier this month, kicking and punching the vehicle before the deputy could drive away, a California sheriff’s office said this week. The 15-year-old male allegedly opened the driver’s door of the San Bernardino Sheriff’s […]

18 hours ago

Travelers walk through Salt Lake City International Airport Friday, May 24, 2024, in Salt Lake City...

Associated Press

Record broken for most travelers screened at US airports on Friday, according to TSA

A record was broken ahead of the Memorial Day weekend for the number of airline travelers screened at U.S. airports.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Undercover operation nets arrests as New Mexico’s top prosecutor blames Meta for online predators