A Long Beach resident was arrested at his home today on a state charge of suspicion of possession of child pornography, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.
A tip originating in Brussels, Belgium led to special agents from US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations searching the home of 36-year-old Eric James Mitchell, a music teacher at Calle Mayor Middle School in Torrance.
With a search warrant for Mitchell’s home, agents found “sexually explicit images of minors on digital devices,” according to ICE spokeswoman Virginia Kice.
Officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) assigned to the Long Beach Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, as well as Torrance Police Department officers assisted with the arrest, according to Kice, while prior to his arrest, Mitchell was placed on administrative leave after Torrance Unified School District was informed of the suspicion.
It wasn’t until Long Beach-based HIS special agents received the tip from the Brussels-based HIS attache that Mitchell came under scrutiny, according to the release.
“We don't have any indication at this time that this individual victimized any of his students, but that's certainly a concern whenever we're investigating a child pornography suspect who has close and ongoing contact with children,'' stated Joseph Macias, special agent in charge of HIS Los Angeles.
Macias noted that the department is still in the very first stages of the investigation and asked the public to come forward with further information if available. The investigation was a facet of HIS' Operation Predator, which Kice described as “an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators,” according to the release.
No further details regarding the Brussels connection to the case have been released.
Anyone with information regarding the ongoing investigation was urged to contact ICE's toll-free Tip Line at (866) DHS-2-ICE or by completing the agency's online tip form.
City News Service contributed to this report.