A Pinal County detention officer was arrested early Wednesday morning at his home in Coolidge after investigators found child pornography on his phone. 42-year-old Rick Vasquez is being held at the Pinal County Detention Center — where he used to work — on charges of dangerous crimes against children and sexual exploitation of a minor.
Police say that on August 4, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that someone on the social media app MeWe had shared three images of children being sexually exploited, ABC15 (KNXV-TV) first reported
Phoenix police detectives with the Internet Crimes Against Children task force determined the account that had posted the photos belonged to Vasquez. Police say that when interviewed, Vasquez admitted to using MeWe and other social networking sites to obtain and distribute child pornography.
Vasquez told police he had videos and photos of children as young as toddlers on his cellphone, police say.
The Pinal County Sheriff's Office said that Vasquez has been put on unpaid administrative leave "pending the outcome" of his case.
Vasquez has worked for Pinal County since 2003.
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb shared a video on Facebook roughly four hours after Vasquez's arrest on Wednesday, December 11, but did not identify the officer.
“Unfortunately, I have to share some tough news with you today,” Lamb said. “One of our employees was arrested by another agency. I cannot get into the details of the case because there is more investigation. However, it involved internet crimes. I just wanted to let you know that we are cooperating with that agency. That employee has been placed on admin leave pending the investigation. As your sheriff I just want you to hear it from me first."