What to Know
- 10 men were charged with "hands-on" predatory conduct against children, including sex assault and luring
- Some of the defendants allegedly had thousands of images and videos of child pornography
- Authorities said a new electronic-sniffing dog and a cyber forensics van helped in the investigations
Dozens of people have been arrested as part of a months-long initiative targeting child sex predators, New Jersey's attorney general announced Friday.
A Trenton police officer, an Air Force captain, a swimming coach, a camp counselor, a piano teacher, a mechanic and an IT professional were among the 79 people arrested for various crimes against children, including everything from sexual assault and luring to child pornography.
The initiative, Operation Safety Net, was led by the New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which teamed up with dozens of other agencies across the state and country, including federal agencies such as U.S. Homeland Investigations and the FBI.
The suspects are between 14 to 75 years old and come from every one of New Jersey's 21 counties, as well as other states, Attorney General Christopher Porrino said.
Among them is a camp counselor accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl, a youth minister who allegedly sent lewd photos of himself to a girl, and a 24-year-old man accused of using a photo app to record underage girls performing sex acts, authorities said. A 17-year-old defendant allegedly recorded boys in a private bathroom, a and three brothers allegedly had nearly 5,000 child pornography files.
People arrested in other states included a California man who allegedly tried to have a 4-year-old girl and a 9-year-old girl transported to California for sex; authorities said the child sex traffickers he thought he was talking with were undercover detectives.
Dozens of people were also arrested for sharing or possessing child pornography after investigators monitored peer-to-peer file-sharing networks, and undercover stings led to the arrests of people trying to solicit sex from minors, authorities said.
A new electronics-sniffing dog helped uncover devices and storage drives that are easily hidden, and a new customized van allowed investigators to examine these devices at the scene, authorities said.