Law & Justice

Morris County Residents Involved in Massive Child Trafficking and Pornography Sting

Two Elizabeth Residents Arrested in Massive Child Trafficking and Pornography Sting Credits: Courtesy of The Office of The Attorney General
79 child predators and child pornography offenders in “Operation Safety Net,” a multi-agency child protection initiative led by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.  Credits: Courtesy of The Office of The Attorney General

TRENTON, NJ – Arrests have been made in a massive operation that stretched from New Jersey to California, that targeted sex offenders, and persons possessing child pornography was announced today by Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino.

Arrests of 79 child predators and child pornography offenders in “Operation Safety Net,” a nine-month, multi-agency child protection initiative led by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. 

Partnering agencies targeted sex offenders who exploited the internet and social media, making arrests in every New Jersey county and deploying, for the first time, a new van equipped as a mobile cyber forensics lab, as well as a new canine trained to sniff out electronic devices, to assist in the execution of search warrants.

Sign Up for E-News

Those arrested in Operation Safety Net included 10 “hands-on” offenders, including child predators in California and Indiana who allegedly tried to have children transported interstate from New Jersey by adult traffickers so they could have sex with the children; four men in New Jersey who allegedly sought to lure children for sex; a camp counselor who allegedly sexually assaulted a girl, 14, under his supervision; a youth minister who allegedly sent lewd photos of himself to a young girl; and a man, 24, who allegedly used a phone app to record underage girls performing sex acts on themselves. 

Those arrested also included numerous defendants, ranging in age from 14 to 75, who allegedly amassed and/or distributed large collections of child pornography, including a Trenton police officer, a swimming coach, a piano teacher, an IT professional from Morris County who allegedly had over 138,000 files of suspected child pornography (possibly over one million), a mechanic from Mercer County who allegedly had over 10,000 files of child porn, and three brothers in Cumberland County who allegedly had nearly 5,000 files of child pornography. 

The operation was conducted by the ICAC Task Force, which is led by the New Jersey State Police and includes the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ), U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), all 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices.

Porrino made the announcement at the Hamilton Tech Center with DCJ Director Elie Honig, Acting State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan, Supervisory Special Agent Craig Vanderhoff of HSI Human Trafficking/Child Exploitation Group, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri, Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner and representatives of other participating agencies.  The Division of Criminal Justice exhibited its new cyber forensics van, and the State Police showcased its new electronics detection dog, Mega, both of which contributed greatly to the success of Operation Safety Net.

“The men we arrested lurked in the shadows of the internet and social media, looking for opportunities to sexually assault young children or to view such unspeakable assaults by sharing child pornography,” Porrino said. “We set up a wide safety net in this operation to snare these alleged predators and to protect children, which remains our highest priority.  With our new mobile forensics lab and electronics-sniffing dog, we’re even better equipped to uncover the evidence that will keep these offenders behind bars, where they cannot threaten or further exploit vulnerable victims.”  

“I want to thank all of the many agencies and individuals who participated in this massive, unprecedented and highly collaborative effort to protect our children and communities in New Jersey and elsewhere,” Porrino added.

“We charged 10 men with hands-on predatory conduct against children, including attempted interstate trafficking of children for sex, sexual assault, luring, sending obscene images to a child, or manufacturing child pornography,” said Attorney General Porrino. “These cases highlight the fact that viewing child pornography is part of a continuum of deviant behavior that often leads to or drives other sex crimes.”

“We’ve made these proactive child protection investigations a top priority by adding more staff for them at the state level and considerable new resources, including the mobile forensics lab and electronics detection dog,” Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice said.  “There’s no question that by collaborating across all levels of law enforcement and arresting these offenders, we protected innocent children who might otherwise have been sexually abused and exploited.  We’ve also ensured that all these men who victimized children – or re-victimized them by viewing child pornography – will face justice.”

“The individuals who share this horrific material will not stop unless they are apprehended and removed from the public,” Colonel Patrick Callahan, Acting Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police said. “The nine-month investigation conducted by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and partnering agencies have ensured that children throughout the country will not fall victim to the actions of these depraved individuals. These arrests should put anyone looking to engage in this behavior on notice that law enforcement will be relentless in our efforts to put them behind bars.”

In addition to investigating numerous cyber tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the ICAC Task Force in Operation Safety Net conducted proactive investigations to apprehend offenders by monitoring peer-to-peer file-sharing networks and identifying the IP addresses of individuals sharing child pornography.  Detectives also conducted undercover chat investigations on social media platforms, which led to arrests of alleged hands-on offenders and defendants attempting to lure children.

Two proactive investigations initiated by the New Jersey State Police extended beyond New Jersey’s borders – with assistance from other state and federal authorities – to apprehend defendants charged with allegedly attempting to arrange the interstate trafficking of young children for sex:

Eight other defendants were arrested in New Jersey in Operation Safety Net on charges related to various types of alleged “hands-on” conduct, including sexual assault, luring a child, conveying obscene materials to a child, and manufacturing child pornography.

On July 21, 2017, Governor Christie signed a new law which will take effect Feb. 1, 2018, and will further enhance penalties for possession and distribution of child pornography. 

The new law expanded the definition of child pornography to include child erotica.  In addition, the new law makes it a first-degree crime to distribute 1,000 or more items depicting the sexual exploitation of a child, with a mandatory parole ineligibility period of one-third to one-half of the sentence imposed. 

The new law also makes it a first-degree crime to possess 100,000 or more items of child pornography, and a second-degree crime to possess anywhere between 1,000 and 99,999.  Under the new law, videos depicting the sexual exploitation of a child will count more heavily than still images, each counting for 10 images.

Operation Safety Net made extensive use of two key new tools: an electronics detection canine and a mobile forensics van.  Both contributed greatly to the success of the operation.  As electronic devices become smaller and easier to hide, the importance of dogs trained to detect them increases. 

There are thumb drives available that are hidden in or disguised as cuff links, bracelets, LEGO blocks, coins and other everyday items.  Throughout the operation, the canine was used at State Police and Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) search warrant scenes.  The canine was used for a preliminary walk-through and would identify devices and loose electronic storage media not in plain view.  The detectives would then thoroughly search the area where that evidence was found to ensure all digital evidence was recovered.

Rapid triage of computers at search sites – also called forensic previewing – is a critical component of child pornography investigations.  Such forensic previewing can result in the immediate arrest of individuals who otherwise might be left to continue direct illicit sexual contact with minors, preventing further abuse of victims.  The previewing of computers at search sites has often had to occur in close proximity to the alleged perpetrator and often in potentially dangerous environments. 

To maintain the integrity of the evidence gathering process, it is important for the forensic examiner to have the proper equipment to work with and the proper environment to work in.  For these reasons, DCJ purchased a customized van, equipped with the appropriate desks and electrical and other equipment, which is used on-site for the forensic previewing of computers and computer-related equipment. This van enabled detectives in Operation Safety Net to safely examine suspected devices within the van and conduct more extensive previews at the scene, increasing the number of charges carrying enhanced penalties.

The charges against the defendants in Operation Safety Net are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

 

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Montville

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_c9d9d9b244a8c13cc32e_img_5625

Mon, December 11, 10:00 AM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Story Time at Library

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_9bddd3776ebfcc3fd221_a_library__2017_tapinto_montville

Tue, December 12, 4:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

K-Pop Dance Lesson

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_605e2554ad569601381b_menorah_by_gail

Tue, December 12, 5:30 PM

Montville Township Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Menorah Lighting

Religions And Spirituality

Carousel_image_2f5e22fedbc0839027fd_township_logo

Tue, December 12, 8:00 PM

Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Committee Meeting

Government

Carousel_image_8c395679f7ad02a03e98_img_5625

Wed, December 13, 4:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

STEM for Kids at Montville Twp Library

Education

Holiday Pet Adoption at the Montville Animal Shelter

December 11, 2017

If you’re considering adding a furry addition to your family, the holiday season is the perfect time to provide a shelter dog or cat with a loving home. To encourage pet adoption and bring even more joy to your homes this season, the Montville Animal Shelter is hosting a Holiday adoption event!

On December 16, 2017 enjoy discounted fees on all animals and free gifts for ...

Pearl Harbor Commemorated by VFW Post 5481

December 9, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – A few Montville residents gathered to mark the 76th anniversary of Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Day at the Montville Youth Center.

Montville VFW Post #5481 Former Commander Frank Warholic led the ceremony but was saddened by the aging status of the post.

“We didn’t have enough people to have a color guard or do the gun salute,” he said.

Still he marked the ...

Heroes of Montville Twp: Army 1st Lt Lindsey Danilack

December 3, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Hall of Fame inducted its first MTHS graduate to attend West Point Military Academy, Army First Lieutenant Lindsey Danilack. Her father, Mark, introduced her, and his pride was obvious for Lindsey, who is an Apache helicopter pilot.

Mark talked about how Lindsey was first captain at West Point when she was a senior, and only the fourth woman to hold ...

Montville Twp High School Teacher Dies

November 29, 2017

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township School District announced the passing of high school social studies teacher Peter Porter on Nov. 28. He was 49 years old and died "after a courageous battle with brain cancer," according to his obituary. 

Porter, who taught Advanced Placement (college level) European History, was president of the teachers’ union (MTEA) ...

Local County Residents Attend Morris County Strategic Planning Meeting

December 8, 2017

WHIPPANY, NJ - Morris County Officials along with the Morris County Freeholder Board held a standing room only, open session last month where they discussed and sought input for their ten (10) year strategic plan.  

Residents from throughout the county attended the meeting to provide input for what they thought should be the most important components of the ...

Panel Discussion in Sparta: School Consolidation Complex and Costly

December 9, 2017

SPARTA, NJ – A large crowd filled the Sparta High School media center on Wednesday to hear a panel discussion about school consolidation.  More than 150 people attended the event sponsored by New Jersey School Boards’ Association, according to Ray Pinney, Director of Member Engagement.

The through discussion of topic hit both sides of the issue.  “Some say it is a ...

Holiday Pet Adoption at the Montville Animal Shelter

December 11, 2017

If you’re considering adding a furry addition to your family, the holiday season is the perfect time to provide a shelter dog or cat with a loving home. To encourage pet adoption and bring even more joy to your homes this season, the Montville Animal Shelter is hosting a Holiday adoption event!

On December 16, 2017 enjoy discounted fees on all animals and free gifts for ...

Columns

Open Houses this Weekend by Century 21 The Crossing

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 open houses this weekend:

Saturday, Dec. 9 from 2 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, Dec. 10 from 2 - 4 p.m.

12 Pond View, Montville
Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, Dec. 10 ...

AtlantiCast: Episode 008

On this week’s AtlantiCast, you’ll learn about a groundbreaking new clinical trial in the fight against pancreatic cancer, meet an award-winning child neurologist at Goryeb Children’s Hospital and hear about the new Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center at Atlantic Orthopedic Institute – plus stay tuned at the end to see our debut episode of the AtlantiCast Medical ...

'An Act of God' takes a leap of faith at George Street

‘An Act of God’ takes leap of faith at George Street Playhouse

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – If anyone can portray God, it must be Kathleen Turner. Local theatre goers are fortunate indeed, to have the throaty, stage smart Turner in our midst.

Turner, of course, is not only an acclaimed actress, but a female God with plenty to say about the ups and downs of religion ...

Pet Corner

Holiday Pet Adoption at the Montville Animal Shelter

December 11, 2017

If you’re considering adding a furry addition to your family, the holiday season is the perfect time to provide a shelter dog or cat with a loving home. To encourage pet adoption and bring even more joy to your homes this season, the Montville Animal Shelter is hosting a Holiday adoption event!

On December 16, 2017 enjoy discounted fees on all animals and free gifts for ...