34 Central Valley Men Arrested For Meeting “Minors” For Sex During Undercover Operation “COVID Chat Down”
From July 20th to August 2nd, the Central California Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC)
Task Force, which is comprised 64 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies spread
throughout nine counties in the Central Valley, arrested 34 Central Valley men for various
charges related to arranging a meeting with minors for sex.
Posing as 12 and 13-year old boy and girls, adult detectives used online apps to converse with
men. The conversations would turn sexual in nature with the suspects using sexually explicit
language and sending graphic photos. Once the suspect requested to meet the “child” in person, detectives would arrest the suspect at the meet-up location.
Among those arrested was 55-year old Thomas Binford of Clovis. Binford’s arrest history
includes an arrest for sexually assaulting a child. He is required to register as a sex offender. In
addition to this arrest for trying to meet with a child for sex, Binford was found in possession of child pornography which included images of infant bondage and infant rape.
Another man arrested had intentions to have unprotected sex with who he thought was a 13-year old girl. He reported to detectives he is HIV positive.
Operation “COVID Chat Down” remains active, meaning more arrests could be made. No actual children were ever involved in this operation.