Investigators were able to identify and arrest five men in recent months on suspicion of using several social media platforms to share images and videos that depicted children who were being sexually exploited, according to the Riverside Police Department.
The investigation spanned nearly a year, officials said.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent in tips to Riverside police alleging that several people were using platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to share child pornography, the department said Friday in a Facebook post.
Once detectives identified the suspects, they executed search warrants at their homes and obtained evidence of child pornography, according to the department.
Five of six men were taken into custody as a result of the searches and seizures.
Juan Flores, 25, was arrested for allegedly sharing child pornography through Instagram in February.
Mark Tyler, 59, of Riverside was arrested on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography over the internet in April.
Armando Gonzales, 42, of Riverside was also arrested on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography over the internet.
Christopher Rivers, 28, of Riverside was identified by detectives after a tip was shared by NCMEC in June. Rivers was arrested on suspicion of sharing child pornography on Instagram.
Leonardo Galvan, 46, of Riverside was arrested in October on suspicion for possessing and distributing child pornography on Facebook.
Detectives are working to find another man suspected of committing similar crimes while on active duty with the Marines, according to the department. Eric Stiegelmeyer, 24, was stationed at Camp Pendelton when he allegedly shared child pornography over the internet. Riverside detectives worked with the Naval Criminal Investigators Service and Escondido police in order to identify Stiegelmeyer as a suspect.
Stiegelmeyer had previous run-ins with law enforcement in Escondido for similar crimes, officials said. He was discharged by the Marine Corps for an unknown reason before federal arrest warrants could be obtained.
Anyone with information about Stiegelmeyer’s whereabouts was urged to contact Detective Charlie Olivas at email@example.com, Detective Stacie Onto at firstname.lastname@example.org or Detective Paul Miranda at email@example.com.