Man caught in federal child pornography sting

A Santa Ana man who authorities said tried to meet a 12-year-old girl at South Coast Plaza was one of nearly 200 people arrested in a federal sting operation, authorities said Friday.

Theodore Perez, 29, is charged with meeting a minor with the intention of committing a lewd act, distributing lewd material to a minor, and luring of a child with intent to commit a specific crime.

Perez was one of 190 people arrested in the operation, dubbed Operation Orion, by Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) authorities that targeted people who possessed, received, transported or distributed child pornography.

Authorities said Perez believed he was talking to a girl he met on Facebook, but instead he was texting and talking on the phone with Homeland Security agents who assumed the girl’s identity.

In text exchanges and phone calls, Perez allegedly indicated he wanted to perform lewd acts on the girl, ICE authorities said.

The Orange County district attorney is prosecuting Perez.

He is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

— Lauren Williams

Twitter: @lawilliams30