Other NJ News

Two Elizabeth Residents Arrested in Massive Child Trafficking and Pornography Sting

d1cc917631922dbfd2d2_Operation_Safety_Net_1.JPG
Two Elizabeth Residents Arrested in Massive Child Trafficking and Pornography Sting Credits: Courtesy of The Office of The Attorney General
4da0ceeee02d620ef879_Operation_Safety_Net_2.JPG
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
d1cc917631922dbfd2d2_Operation_Safety_Net_1.JPG

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. 

Larry Gonzalez, 45, of Elizabeth, was arrested and charged with possession and distribution of child pornography and Md F. Uddin, 43, of Elizabeth, an engineer, allegedly had more than 5,000 files of suspected child pornography.

Sign Up for E-News

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.

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.

 

TAPintoElizabeth.net is Elizabeth’s free daily news source. Sign up for our daily eNews and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TAPElizabeth and Twitter @TAPElizabeth. 

 

Download the TAPinto App!   Click here for Android.  Click here for iOS.

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Piscataway

TapInto Welcomes Letters to the Editor, Guidelines for Submission Listed

PISCATAWAY, NJ - Letters to the Editor are a time-honored tradition in the newspaper industry and now that so much of news has moved online, the letters explaining a personal point of view have moved with it.

While many of our letters come during election time, TapInto invites letters year round. The main rules are to include a full name, phone number, email and snail mail address. TapInto ...

To Our Current and Future Representatives

July 17, 2018

To Our Current and Future Representatives - Wherever They May Be:

We can never forget we are a nation of immigrants. 

We cannot fall prey to fear, ignorance and anger when we  have been historically driven by freedom and justice. 

We must have the courage and will to fight hate, bigotry and prejudice. 

We must not wake up to what we hoped was a bad dream and ...

Polystyrene Pollution

Dear Editor,

Last month the article,  A Girl Scout Workshop that Builds Young Environmental Specialists reminded readers that it's important to educate people on issues in our environment. Our waterways are under threat from harmful plastic pollution. Americans throw away an estimated 70 million plastic foam cups and about one-third end up in waterways like rivers, lakes ...

New Brunswick Battles Hunger with Largest Food Pantry Network in County

July 17, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - The Rev. Douglas Shepler became pastor of New Brunswick's Second Reformed in April 2008 and by October had a food pantry running that quickly attracted people in need, including Rutgers University students.

“We had graduate students coming to us and they had a choice of paying their rent or paying for food,” Shepler said. However, those students ...

Obituaries

Hillsborough, NJ - Gina (Francoisa) Salamon, 90, died Monday, July 9, 2018 at Bridgeway Care Center ...
Read more
Piscataway – Michael John Doherty, 73, passed away Saturday June 16, 2018 in Las Vegas, ...
Read more

New Outlook Pioneers hosts 18th Music in the Park at Milt Campbell Field

July 15, 2018

Plainfield, NJ - On Thursday, August 2, 2018 at 5PM Sponsored by: The City of Plainfield (including the Cultural & Heritage and Human Relations Commissions), Mayor Adrian Mapp and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders; along with CO-SPONSORS: New Outlook Pioneers, Mr. Plainfield (Robert Graham),TD+Partners -A Community Impact Development Firm, and Re/Max Select, Sandra L.

Cruising with Autism on the Seas

This is a event that includes the partnership and collaboration of Cruise Planners, Autism Friendly Escapes and WallynZavy's Autistic Kids Can Do!. WallynZavy's Autistic Kids Can Do is a non-profit 5013c, organization that supports families that have autistic and special needs children through advocacy, social play dates, resources, workshops, community support, seminars and family ...

Piscataway Library Accepting Diaper Donations Now Through July 31st

The Piscataway Public Library is helping the Central Jersey Diaper Bank collect diaper donations through the month of July. 

New or open packs of disposable baby diapers (all sizes) and wipes are needed.

Look for the blue bins at either Kennedy or Westergard to donate!

RU Ready for Rutgers Football? Tickets on Sale Next Week

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - There's a lot of promotions planned this fall as part of the Rutgers football season.

Single game tickets go on sale Thursday, July 12, with seven home games. There's matchups against Big Ten East opponents Michigan and Penn State, and a first-time cross divisional meeting with Northwestern.

If football is not your thing, there's plenty ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_5ce80d6ef1e97a049d73_sivantos_piscataway_july_2018_flyer-page-001

Tue, July 17, 8:00 AM

Sivantos - Bloodmobile, Piscataway

Piscataway Emergency Blood Drive - Pair of ...

Giving Back Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_e494ac4a13e4230208bf_holy_savior_academy

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Open House July 17th

Education

Carousel_image_e494ac4a13e4230208bf_holy_savior_academy

Tue, July 17, 5:00 PM

South Plainfield

Holy Savior Open House July 17th

Education

Wed, July 18, 7:30 PM

Chatham United Methodist Church, Chatham

Masterwork’s Summer Sing Four to Feature Brahms

Arts & Entertainment

Sat, July 21, 10:00 AM

NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

82nd Annual Garden State Cat Show & Expo

Giving Back Other

Residents Taking Action Against White Supremacist Fliers Found Around Bridgewater, Bedminster, Other Local Areas

July 17, 2018

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Residents of Bridgewater, Somerville, Morristown and surrounding communities are mobilizing for action after they found posters around town promoting Identity Evropa, which the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has labeled a white supremacist group.

According to Bridgewater resident Stacey Friedlander, a member of the “Not In Our Town – Bridgewater/Raritan” ...

Big Changes in Store for New Jersey’s Employers and Employees

July 15, 2018

Big changes are in store for New Jersey’s workplaces, with dramatic legislation aimed at improving conditions for New Jersey’s workers. These changes include the enactment of New Jersey’s Equal Pay Act, a new law to help the unemployed, and passage of New Jersey’s Paid Sick Leave Act. Most likely one or all these laws will impact you or someone in your family.

New ...

Extra Time

It was close to 70 minutes into the match and I had to go to the bathroom.  Badly.

As fans watching the World Cup know too well, bathroom breaks are a serious dilemma, especially for those who don’t have a TV in the loo.  This biological necessity is exasperated by beer, which during World Cup matches also fuels a strong propensity to throw chairs and instigate riots.