The year 2020 led to a rise in the online sexual exploitation of children in New Jersey. When the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office became aware of this trend, it developed a sting operation called “Operation 24/7.” On July 14, the Attorney General’s Office announced the result of Operation 24/7 – 31 male adults were arrested for various kinds of online offenses involving children.
Operation 24/7 was a collaborative effort involving the Division of Criminal Justice, New Jersey State Police, Internet Crimes Against Children (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. The operation began on April 1, 2021 and ended on June 30, 2021. The crimes that have been alleged against the 31 male suspects include attempted human trafficking, attempted sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, sharing obscene material with a minor, attempted theft by extortion, and manufacturing, distribution, and possession of child sexual abuse material, in many cases, child rape videos.
All of the suspects have been arrested and have entered pleas to the charges. Among the arrested suspects are two men who were charged with sexually assaulting or attempting to sexually assault children, and two others charged with manufacturing child pornography.
The number of tips involving sex crimes against children remains high according to the New Jersey Attorney General. The number of tips received in the first six months of 2021 was 3,324, or an increase of 39% higher than the entire year of 2019.
The suspects in this case are facing serious criminal charges. Convictions could result in significant periods of incarceration, fines, and significant limitations of their personal lives. Anyone facing similar charges may benefit from consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide an evaluation of the evidence and an estimate of the probability of conviction or obtaining an acceptable plea bargain.