SOMERVILLE, NJ - The arrests of 12 child predators in “Operation Spotlight," ncluding a Warren Township man, were announced on Tuesday by Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, U.S. Attorney/District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives John W. Fodor and Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr., FBI Newark Division.

Prosecutor Robertson stated that “Operation Spotlight” was a multi-agency undercover operation that sought individuals using social media applications to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity. These “underage children” were actually undercover law enforcement officers who are specially trained in internet undercover operations.  The defendants arrested in this operation initiated contact based on profiles posted by the undercover law enforcement officers on various social media platforms. Once chatting began, the undercover officers clearly identified themselves as underage girls or boys.  Despite that information, the defendants engaged the “children” in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet the “children” for sex. The defendants were arrested when they arrived at one of three pre-arranged locations in Somerset County, where they expected to find their victims.

Prosecutor Robertson stated, “Our children and their online safety is the utmost concern to us at 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. We hope that this operation will continue to be eye-opening for parents. Although, 12 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within.”

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The arrests in “Operation Spotlight” were made over a four-day period from October 15 through October 18, 2020.  Three defendants traveled to New Jersey from Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut with the intention of meeting with a “child’ for sex. The defendant’s charges range from first degree Promoting Prostitution of a child under the age of 18, to second-degree attempted luring, second-degree attempted sexual assault of a minor, and third-degree attempted endangering the welfare by debauching the morals of a child.  The defendants will be either prosecuted by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office or federally by the United States Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey.

The undercover operation encompassed dozens of federal, state, and municipal law enforcement officers from around the State, forensic examiners, and attorneys from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Electronic devices were seized from the defendants and examinations of those devices are ongoing. The investigative review of the forensic examinations is a lengthy process and will enable investigators to determine if the devices contain evidence of any prior encounters by the defendants with underage victims, which might constitute additional federal and state charges.

The following 12 defendants were arrested during “Operation Spotlight”. They believed that they were communicating with a minor described in the parentheses. The defendants are charged as indicated and were lodged in the Somerset County Jail pending detention hearings with three defendants being transferred to federal authorities.

1. Kyle C. Saludes, age 34, Virginia Ave., Jersey City, N.J. (13 year old) Saludes is a HVAC technician. Defendant Saludes is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, 3rd degree Possession of CDS (Alprazolam), 3rd degree Possession of CDS (MDMA), Disordely Persons Possession of CDS (Marijuana under 50 grams), and Disorderly Persons Possession of drug paraphernalia.

2. Quentin Anthony Blount, age 28, Bushkill Road, Bethlehem, P.A. (14 year old) Blount is employed as a distribution warehouse employee in Pennsylvania. Defendant Blount is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

3. Digant R. Patel, age 46, Briarwood Drive East, Warren, N.J. (14 year old) Patel is employed as a Vice President of a financial institution. Defendant Patel is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

4. Tyler R. Mineo, age 27, East Union Avenue, Bound Brook, N.J. (14 year old) Mineo is employed with a local supermarket. Defendant Mineo is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

5. Christopher Matamoros-Rojas, age 26, Regents Court, Hillsborough, N.J. (13 year old) Matamoros-Rojas is currently unemployed. Defendant Matamoros-Rojas is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

6. Alexander Castillo-Velasquez, age 34, Romney Road, Bound Brook, N.J. (14 year old) Castillo-Velasquez is a self-employed handy man. Defendant Castillo-Velasquez is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

7. Jesus Modesto-Sanchez, age 29, Van Buren Street, New York, N.Y. (13 year old) Modesto-Sanchez is employed at a professional financial firm in New York City. Defendant Modesto-Sanchez is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 2nd degree Attempt to Manufacture Child Pornography and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

8. Benjamin S. Burke, age 27, Hollow Hill Tree Road, Darien, CT. (12 year old) Burke is employed as a software engineer. Defendant Burke is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

9. Cristian Medina, age 34, LaGrange Street, Raritan, N.J. (14 year old) Medina is employed as a restoration technician. Defendant Medina is charged with 1st degree Promoting Prostitution of a child under the age of 18, 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

10. Ryan S. Lee, age 35, Commonwealth Avenue, Trenton, N.J. (13 year old) Lee is employed as a warehouse employee. Defendant Lee is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

11. Daviti R. Robakidze, age 27, East Union Avenue, Bound Brook, N.J. (14 year old) Robakidze is employed as a retail worker. Defendant Robakidze is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

12. Kevin M. Curcio, age 27, Schmidt Lane, North Brunswick, N.J. (13 year old) Curcio is employed as a warehouse employee. Defendant Curcio is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

The joint operation which was hosted by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office would not have been successful without the direct collaboration of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Victims Squad, Newark Field Office, Albany New York Field Office and Philadelphia Field Office along with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The agencies that participated in “Operation Spotlight” are listed below:

Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office

United States Attorney’s Office / District of New Jersey

Federal Bureau of Investigation

United States Secret Service

New Jersey State Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center (R.O.I.C.)

New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory

Somerville Police Department

Bound Brook Police Department

Branchburg Police Department

Hillsborough Police Department

Manville Police Department

Raritan Police Department

 

Prosecutor Robertson made the announcement at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office with U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito, and leaders and representatives of the other participating agencies.