The 14 suspects, who range in age from 23 to 74, allegedly used a file-sharing network to download and distribute child porn online, including videos that showed boys and girls being raped or coerced into performing sexual acts.
Using advanced technology and digital "fingerprint" searches, investigators determined the suspects were allegedly downloading child porn and making it available to others via a shared folder on their respective computers. The shared drive works the same for sharing the illicit material as it would to share music or movies, authorities said.
All of the suspects are charged with possessing child pornography, and most of them are charged with distributing it. The men were arrested between Feb. 10 and July 22 and include two school bus drivers who drove children in Mays Landing and a Salem County man who allegedly hacked into the email account of a 16-year-old Canadian girl and used personal information he obtained from her account to blackmail her into stripping naked on a webcam while he recorded her.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman called the Salem County man "a new breed of child predator: one who lurks in the shadows of the internet and can strike from hundreds of miles away."
Another suspect is a health care company executive allegedly found in possession of at least 750 pornographic images and videos featuring children. A 55-year-old man who is active in his church and wanted to be a youth minister was also arrested in the sweep, as were a software engineer with an aerospace firm and a retired postal worker.
The men charged this week were busted in a second round of arrests associated with "Operation Predator Alert," a joint operation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and ICE Homeland Security Investigations that has targeted offenders in New Jersey. Sixteen people were arrested in the first sweep.