TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey’s Attorney General announced 31 arrests from a sting meant to address what the state calls a continued spike in attempts to sexually exploit children on the internet during the pandemic, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Wednesday.
Two of the men arrested are charged with sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault children, and two other men are charged with manufacturing or attempting to manufacture child sexual abuse materials by extorting or soliciting sexually explicit images of children they encountered via gaming or social media apps. The remaining 27 defendants are charged with possession and/or distribution of child sexual abuse materials, including, in many cases, child rape videos.
The 31 men were arrested in what’s been called “Operation 24/7,” which was a collaborative effort conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, ICAC Task Force, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office, Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Warren County Prosecutor’s Office, and Gloucester Township Police Department.
“Through these collaborative operations with the ICAC Task Force, we are working tirelessly to arrest child predators and those who exploit children by possessing and distributing child sexual abuse materials,” said Grewal. “With young people continuing to spend more time on their electronic devices due to the COVID pandemic, we must remain vigilant. We urge parents and guardians to warn children about the threats that exist on social media and popular gaming sites, and to watch for signs that a child has been subjected to online abuse.”
The men arrested were between the ages of 18 and 65. You can read complete details about all of them on the state’s website.
Grewal said that his task force has arrested predators who used apps like Kik, Skout, Grindr, Whisper, Omegle, Tinder, Chat Avenue, Chat Roulette, Wishbone, Live.ly, Musical.ly, Paltalk, Yubo, Hot or Not, Down, and Tumblr. Arrests also have been made involving the gaming apps Fortnite, Minecraft, and Discord. Attorney General Grewal urged parents to familiarize themselves with these and other apps and warn their children about sharing information with strangers.