Firefighter, teacher among 51 arrested as part of 'Operation: Broken Heart'

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor, Vincent Crivelli - Reporter

HOUSTON - A teacher and a former Houston Fire Department captain were among the 51 people arrested as part of an operation aimed at people accused of being involved in sexual crimes against children, authorities said.

The two-month-long investigation was run by the Houston Metro Internet Crimes Against Children task force, which includes personnel from several law enforcement agencies in Southeast Texas.

Police said those who were targeted during the operation included people accused of being involved in child pornography, soliciting children online or being involved in the sex trafficking of children.

During a news conference Thursday, authorities said the teacher was a woman who also worked as a private tutor.

The firefighter was identified as 36-year-old Ryan William Steckler following his arrest on May 24. A cyber investigation revealed Steckler had nearly a dozen photos and videos of children engaging in sex acts.

VIDEO: News conference about arrests

Authorities said the majority of the arrests happened in Montgomery County, which had a total of 25 arrests. However, the crime is not localized.

"This is not a local crime,” said HPD Sgt Luis Menendez-Sierra. “This is not just something that is relegated to your next door neighbor or one town away. This is a nationwide issue."

Authorities said steps have to be taken to protect children.

"We all must make sure that children never meet up with someone they met on the internet," said Children's Assessment Center Executive Director Elaine Stolte.

A similar operation last year led to the arrest of 60 people, police said.

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