Authorities are searching for a man accused of arranging to meet minors for sexual acts in Ventura County.
The suspect was identified as Christopher Michael Loza, 46, from Winnetka, by the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office.
On Friday, charges were filed against Loza for two felony counts of communicating with a minor with the intent to commit sexual acts and arranging to meet a child for sexual acts.
Loza failed to appear in court at a Friday arraignment hearing and a felony warrant has been issued for his arrest.
The suspect was discovered during a sting operation led by Ventura County Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.
In an online chatroom, Loza contacted someone he believed to be a 15-year-old girl. During the conversation, he allegedly made several comments indicating the desire to engage in sexual activities with the girl, who was actually an undercover officer, authorities said.
Loza arranged to meet the girl at a park in Camarillo on July 21. When he arrived, he was taken into custody by authorities and task force members.
“Loza’s alleged willingness to travel such a great distance for the purposes of meeting a child is alarming and should act as a reminder for parents to be diligent in teaching their children safe internet practices,” said Supervising District Attorney Investigator Terrance Dobrosky.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there was a “clear and significant increase in child luring reports beginning in 2020.”
Child luring involves communicating with a child with the intent to commit sexual acts, officials explained. Any child using the internet can become a target of online exploitation and this can happen across many platforms including social media, text/messaging apps, gaming platforms and more.
Some tips for parents of children using the internet include:
-Become educated about the websites, software, games, and apps that their children use.
-Check their social media, gaming profiles, and posts; and have conversations about what is appropriate to say or share.
-Make sure their kids use privacy settings to restrict access to their online profiles.
-Explain to their children to be extremely wary when communicating with anyone online who they do not know in real life.
-Report any inappropriate contact between an adult and your child to law enforcement immediately.
The investigation into Loza remains ongoing and anyone with additional information can call Terrance Dobrosky at 805-383-4779.