Two Palm Desert men arrested in federal sweep of sex offenders

PALM DESERT — Authorities announced charges Monday against 12 people — including two Palm Desert men — in a federal crackdown on child sex offenders.

Authorities also are seeking the public’s help to identify possible additional child victims in two other cases, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The 12 people charged across the Inland were investigated during the past two months.

Jarrett Wayne Martindale Jr., 26, of Palm Desert, pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography, according to ICE. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 21.

Michael Weitzel, 56, of Palm Desert, has agreed to plead guilty to possessing child pornography. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Authorities did not release details about what led them to investigate the men, neither of whom have criminal histories in Riverside County, according to a Desert Sun review of court records.

The investigation was a coordinated effort between ICE’s Operation Predator, the FBI’s Innocent Images and Innocence Lost initiatives and the Department of Justice initiative Project Safe Childhood. The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office also assisted.

The charge of possession of child pornography carries up to 10 years in federal prison.

Authorities also said they were “concerned there may be unidentified juvenile victims” in two of the cases that were also part of the federal crackdown.

Darian Anthony Tillman, 21, of Corona, has signed a plea agreement admitting that he falsely identified himself as “Taylor Popov” and enticed a 15-year-old boy to send sexually explicit videos and photographs of himself.

He is set to be arraigned on Aug. 28.

Christine Diane Foster, 39, of Fontana, was indicted on accusations of taking pornographic pictures of a 3-year-old in her care and distributing the images from her cell phone.

She is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 4.

Written by
Kate McGinty
The Desert Sun

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