More than two dozen people were busted in a child porn operation in New Jersey.
State Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa announced on Tuesday the arrests associated with a large-scale child porn investigation dubbed "Operation Watchdog." The three-month, multi-agency effort resulted in 26 men and one woman being charged with distribution and possession of child pornography.
Included among the arrested were men from Atlantic, Camden, Ocean and other area counties.
“Through aggressive, technology-driven investigations such as Operation Watchdog, we must banish the misguided notion that online viewing and sharing of child pornography is a victimless crime,” said Chiesa. “The vulnerable children who are tortured and degraded to create these vile materials are re-victimized every time another person views the images. Moreover, these offenders generate the demand that motivates suppliers to produce these odious images.”
The first arrest was Cesar Salgado-Maya, 23, of Audubon, who was arrested on March 1, before the other targets of the operation when he was found to be living in a residence connected to a child daycare center.
Another man, Bernard Cahill, 53, of Folsom, allegedly took photos while sexually assaulting a juvenile. Those pictures were discovered during the search warrant. Cahill was additionally charged with sexual Assault and manufacturing child pornography.
“Those who thought they could hide their child porn crimes in the secrecy of their homes have been exposed by the relentless work of law enforcement working together. We will continue to stand together -- as the name Operation Watchdog implies -- as guardians to protect children from those who would make them sexual victims,” said Col. Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.
Detectives were able to link all arrested subjects by their use of the Internet to download or distribute images of child pornography. There is a large library of images and videos known to law enforcement. These pictures are able to be traced in a number of ways, including their digital fingerprint, as they are passed through cyberspace.
Detectives then follow the file transfers to their origin and destination locations. Peer to Peer, or P2P, file sharing networks play a significant role in the distribution of child porn. Detectives, often with intricate undercover identities in the cyber-world, also monitor searches of these sites to develop suspects.
The "Operation Watchdog" investigation was coordinated by the Digital Technology Investigations Unit of New Jersey State Police, with seamless integration of more than 100 troopers, agents, detectives and officers from 21 law enforcement agencies. Between Monday, April 9 and Friday, April 13, they executed search warrants in 26 different towns across the state.
All of the warrant entries were made by the NJSP T.E.A.M.S. Unit, which is the tactical operations group similar to SWAT.
One subject, William Brooks, 66, of Pennsauken, had his computer actively running a file sharing program with multiple child porn images when the warrant on his home was served. With a previous conviction in Pennsylvania on his record, Brooks was lodged in Camden County Jail in default of $300,000 cash bail.
Three subjects, whose names were not released Tuesday were still being sought, officials said.
The Division of Criminal Justice, under Director Stephen J. Taylor, prepared the warrants and provided assistance from the inception of Operation Watchdog in January of 2012. Their office will prosecute the charges.
“Let the word go out that those who share child pornography over the Internet are also sharing the evidence of their crimes with computer experts from law enforcement, who are patrolling the Internet to stop this tragic victimization of children,” said Taylor. “The Division of Criminal Justice will continue to work hand-in-hand with the State Police and our other law enforcement partners to arrest such offenders.”
The names, ages and hometowns of all of the accused can be found on the New Jersey State Police website.