Law & Justice

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

Roselle/Roselle Park

Roselle Park to Host Annual Senior Citizens Indoor Summer Picnic  

July 19, 2018

ROSELLE PARK, NJ - Mayor Carl Hokanson and the Borough Council invites senior citizens to the annual Senior Citizens Indoor Summer Picnic on Saturday, July 21, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Casano Community Center, 314 Chestnut Street, Roselle Park NJ 07204

The annual event hosted by the Borough of Roselle Park features a 50/50 raffle, refreshments, and Extreme Bingo. Extreme bingo ...

Roselle to Hold Community Unity Peace Tour Festival

ROSELLE, NJ - The Bud Simmons Pine Street Park will be the site of the Community Unity Peace Tour Festival, an event to say No to Drugs and Violence this coming weekend.

The event is open to all residents this Saturday, July 21, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Music will be provided by local D.J’s, along with other entertainment, free hot dogs and soda, motivational speakers, display tables, ...

National Weather Service Issues Heat Advisory Through 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17

NEW YORK, NY, - The National Weather Service issued a 'Heat Advisory' this morning for Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Union and Hudson Counties in New Jersey. The heat advisory will remain in effect from noon Monday July 16 until 6 p.m. Tuesday July 17.

Extreme heat can cause illness and death among at- risk population who cannot stay cool. The heat and humidity may cause heat stress during ...

Elizabeth Man Charged with the Killing of One Woman and Attempted Killing of Another Woman

July 17, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - Arlie Rodriguez, 46, of Elizabeth, has been charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder of two Elizabeth women in 2013, says acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan.

 At approximately 10:50 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, 2013, Elizabeth Police responded to the 100 block of Madison Avenue in Elizabeth on a report of an assault, said Union County ...

Cranford Jaycees Annual Golf Outing Raises Money For Community

July 18, 2018

CRANFORD - The Township of Cranford Junior Chamber of Commerce (“Jaycees”) held their 12th Annual Golf Outing on Friday, June 22, 2018, at the Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth. The outing raised $8,000.00 which will benefit two worthy community organizations, the Cranford Baseball and Softball League Inc. and the Union County Educational Services Commission ...

"Tired of cronyism? Yeah, us too!"

July 19, 2018

The Union County Freeholders’ decision to appoint State Senator and newly-elected Union County Democratic Chairman, Nick Scutari’s chief of staff, Ed Oatman as County Manager smelled of corruption from the start. To place a political consultant like Oatman in the role of overseeing 2,800 employees and running the day-to-day operations of the $500 million county budget suggests ...

Union County Hosts Events and Programs for Special Needs Residents

July 19, 2018

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce a series of programs and events throughout the summer and fall for residents with special needs and their families, coordinated through the new Office for People with Special Needs in collaboration with community partners.

“Union County is committed to providing every resident with more opportunities to enjoy activities ...

Dog Found in East 5th Ave. Section of Roselle

July 12, 2018

ROSELLE, NJ - A dog has been found in the area of the 400 block of East 5th Ave. in Roselle. The dog looks to possibly be a Chinese Crested is also called a Powder Puff. It also has an Elizabethan Collar on it. 

The dog was picked up by police and is currently at the Roselle Police Department. 

TAPintoRoselle.net is Roselle’s official electronic news source! To get your free ...

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little

People I've Known and Been: Little by Little by Rich Little (Dog Ear Publishing, 2015)

 

Rich Little is a national treasure; a living encyclopedia of movie stars, comedians, and former presidents all wrapped into one dynamic package. Recently, my husband and I had the good fortune to see Little perform at the Tropicana in Las Vegas, where he has been doing his uncanny ...

Lucia, Lucia by Adriani Trigiani

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2003)

 

If a summer romance novel is what you are craving to read as you sit by the pool or beach, Adriana Trigiani's Lucia, Lucia is a perfect choice. Set in 1950 New York City, the novel is about a young woman, Lucia Sartori, who is determined to have a career and be able to support herself, an unusual choice for a girl who was ...