NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Two New Brunswick men have been arrested in an undercover operation that focused on alleged predators who were using social media to lure children for sex, according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson.

The 19 men arrested in Operation Open Door chatted online or on apps with specially trained members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force posing as underage boys and girls. The men arranged to meet the officers posing as children at two homes in Somerset County and were arrested when they arrived.

The arrests in Operation Open Door were made from Oct. 23 through Oct. 28.

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Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and Robertson made the announcement at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office today with Department of Criminal Justice Director Veronica Allende, Lieutenant Colonel Fritz Frage of the New Jersey State Police, FBI Newark Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie and leaders and representatives of the other participating agencies.

Rafael Martinez-Lezama, 37, of New Brunswick, has been charged with second degree luring and third degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. Martinez-Lezama is a cook at a bagel shop and believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old, authorities said.

Conrado Vasquez-Vasquez, 38, of New Brunswick, has been charged with second degree luring, second degree attempted sexual assault and third degree attempted endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office. Vasquez-Vasquez works at a dry cleaners and believed he was communicating with a 14-year-old, authorities said.

“By arresting 59 alleged child predators in just over a year through three undercover operations across New Jersey, including Operation Open Door, we have sent a powerful message to predators that the boy or girl they target on social media may turn out to be the officer who puts them in handcuffs,” said Attorney General Grewal. “Through these collaborative efforts, we also are delivering a message to parents that we must all do our part to protect children by talking to them and warning them that predators use popular chat apps and gaming platforms to lure children into danger.  We have no higher priority than protecting our children.”

The defendants arrested in this operation initiated contact based on profiles posted by the  undercover law enforcement officers on social media platforms. Once communication began, the undercover officers clearly identified themselves as underage girls or boys, according to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office.

Despite that information, the defendants engaged the “children” in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet the “children” for sex.

The undercover residences were staffed with dozens of law enforcement officers from around the State, forensic examiners and attorneys from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.  Electronic devices were seized from the defendants and examinations of those devices are ongoing.

The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office said the forensic examinations are lengthy and will enable investigators to determine if the devices contain evidence of any prior encounters with underage victims, which might constitute additional cases of luring, sexual assault or child endangerment.

“Our children and their online safety is the utmost concern to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office. Social media apps allow predators into our homes and as law enforcement, we must do what we can to make it a safer environment,” said Robertson. “We hope that this collaborative operation will be eye-opening for parents. Although 19 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within.”

"The chilling reality that today's parents must face is that online child predators could be preying on their children without their knowledge, even as they sit together at home, seemingly safe," said Col. Patrick J. Callahan of the New Jersey State Police.  "Investigations like Operation Open Door, serve as a warning not just for parents, but as a warning that those seeking out underage victims to abuse are themselves being sought out by undercover detectives, who are supported by a collaborative team of law enforcement dedicated to bringing child predators to justice."

According to the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office, the other 17 men arrested in the investigation include:

Brayan Alvarado, 25 of Middlesex Borough, a volunteer fireman and driver for an electric company. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Jihaad Brown, 23 of Franklin Park, a retail salesman. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Michael Brown, 28 of Edison, a mail tester. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child. 

Julio Cubia-Aviles, 27 of West Orange, a carpenter. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Brian Davis, 28 of Franklin (Somerset County), a security guard. Charges are 2nd degree Attempted Promotion of Prostitution of a Child, 2nd degree Luring, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Asif Iqbal, 53 of Mount Holly, a business owner. Charges are 2nd degree Attempted Promotion of Prostitution of a Child, 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Juan Lopez, 42 of Passaic,a day laborer. Charges are 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Jose Martinez-Mejia, 32 of West New York, N.J. a day laborer. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and 3rd degree Attempt to Promote Obscene Material to a Child.

Duraikandan Murugan, 40 of Jasper, Indiana (14) Murugan is unemployed. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child. 

Nimeshbha Patel, 48 of Piscataway, a retail worker. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Niraj Patel, 46 of Franklin (Somerset County), a printer. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Michael Schumacher, 55 of Franklin (Somerset County), a self-employed home theater installer. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Zulfiqer Sekender, 47 of Piscataway, a software engineer. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Naveen Thangaraj, 36 of Edison, a system engineer. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault.

Alexander Ulikowski, 20 of Branchburg, an assistant manager for a hockey store. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

Randal Wise, 42 of Crawford, Indiana, an engineer for a sports television network. Charges are 2nd degree Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child and 3rd degree Attempt to Promote Obscene Material to a Child.

Adam Zeigler, 34 of Carlisle, Pal, a wirjer at an amusement park. Charges are 2nd degree Luring and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child. 

The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office led the operation but worked in collaboration with the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. The N.J. ICAC Task Force is led by the New Jersey State Police and includes the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), all 21 County Prosecutors’ Offices, and many other state and local law enforcement agencies.