Tucson man arrested in international child exploitation probe

2013-01-04T19:00:00Z 2013-01-07T08:37:49Z Tucson man arrested in international child exploitation probePerla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Media coverage of a man wanted for questioning in an unsolved case of child pornography led to an arrest in Tucson Friday.

Lance Robert Fries, 43, was arrested on suspicion of child pornography production and is expected to appear in federal court in Tucson Monday.

He was arrested after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials released details of an almost two-month long international investigation dubbed “Operation Sunflower,” in which 245 people were arrested and 123 victims were identified. Three of the arrests were in Arizona, one of them in Tucson.

Law enforcement was looking for a man in connection with child pornography video that showed an adult male sexually abusing a prepubescent boy, according to a news release. The video was first discovered by agents in Portland, Ore. in 2006 during a search warrant in a child pornography case.

Federal officials released a brief physical description and three pictures, one of them showed a large tattoo on his right arm and appealed to the public for leads.

Investigators were able to identify the victim and confirm the boy is safe, but couldn’t release any additional information, including his relationship to the suspect, in order to protect the privacy of the victim, ICE spokeswoman Amber Cargile said.

On Thursday, just hours after federal authorities made the national announcement, the “Jane Doe” suspect wanted in connection with a child pornography case with ties to the Los Angeles area was arrested outside an apartment complex in North Hills, an ICE news release said. Letha Mae Montemayor, 52, was identified by her facial appearance and tattoos. The criminal complaint alleges she was involved in producing a series of child pornography pictures taken about 11 years ago.

“Operation Sunflower,” launched in November, was aimed at rescuing victims and targeting individuals who own, trade and produce child pornography.

Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at ptrevizo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4213. On Twitter: @Perla_Trevizo.

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