Child Porn Sweep Nets More Than 2 Dozen In NJ

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HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa today announced the arrests associated with a large-scale child porn investigation dubbed Operation Watchdog. The three-month, multi-agency effort resulted in 27 men and one woman being charged with distribution and possession of child pornography.

Courtesy of the New Jersey State Police (click for larger version)

“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 Colonel 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, authorities said. 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, allegedly 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 another state on his record, Brooks was lodged in Camden County Jail in default of $300,000 cash bail. Three subjects, whose names are not being released at this time, are still being sought.

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.”

All of the New Jersey partner agencies in Operation Watchdog are members of the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC). Additionally, agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the FBI assisted with the investigation and execution of warrants.

The ICAC Task Force in New Jersey works with other out-of-state partners to share information on potential distributors and users of child pornography. One major partner is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Washington, D.C. They maintain a national, toll-free tip line for the public to report crimes against children: 1-800-THE-LOST, or 1-800-843-5678. That tip line was responsible for bringing more than 900 leads to the New Jersey ICAC on sexual crimes against children.

An operation like this requires a huge amount of logistical preparation. The State Police Polygraph Unit was used to interview appropriate subjects following the execution of search warrants. The Evidence Management Unit helped catalog the large amount of mostly computer-related evidence. All of the investigations are still considered ongoing since computer media seized as evidence have been turned over to the FBI’s Regional Computer Forensic Lab for thorough examination. This lab is staffed with partners from several different agencies including the NJSP, and works on case evidence from New Jersey and surrounding states.

The charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Because the charges are indictable offenses, they will be presented to a state grand jury for potential indictment.


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