Sex offenders arrested in "Operation Safe Playgrounds" - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Sex offenders arrested in "Operation Safe Playgrounds"

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - California law enforcement agencies are putting sex offenders on notice. News 8 joined several task force teams as they conducted unannounced searches.

The scope of this operation is almost unbelievable -- 140 law enforcement agencies teamed up for the week-long statewide sweep. Agents knocked on more than 1,500 doors and made almost 600 arrests. News 8 rode along with two of the teams this week.

As part of the operation, the Department of Justice's SAFE Team went door to door at 47 San Marcos homes. The registered sex offenders are not wanted by police, but the surprise check-ups make sure the registrants are following the law and living where they're supposed to be.

"Not everybody is honest. Not everybody lives where they say they live and law enforcement is supposed to know where these guys are living, so just in case we have an incident," SAFE Task Force member David Collazo said.

Convicted sex offenders have to register with the sheriff's department on an annual basis. Registrant Paul Bartel has been registering for the past six years. The SAFE team checked up on him last December, and now it's time to knock on his door again.

Bartel is complying with the law, but not the next man on the list. Agents say Cory Smith was convicted for drugging and raping a victim in 1999. Smith's mother says her son moved up to Northern California a couple of months ago. He should have notified authorities within five days, and could now face arrest with a felony charge.

"Right now it appears he is out of compliance, so we start an investigation starting today," Collazo said.

Along with the arrests statewide, agents discovered 40 weapons violations.

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