Child Exploitation Ring Busted, Dozens Arrested

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After a long and thorough investigation of people who use the internet to sexually exploit children, 21 pedophiles were arrested in New Jersey.

Child Predators Caught in NJ

On Wednesday, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the multiple arrests and gave a timeline of between March 18 and July 31.

What is known as “Operation Screen Capture,” this joint operation was created to fight back against an ever-growing increase of online predators during the coronavirus pandemic, Fox 5NY reports.

“Reports to our Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of potential predatory conduct against children are up as much as 50 percent during the COVID emergency as homebound children, starved for outside contact, spend more time on their devices, and opportunistic sexual predators target them online,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We urge parents to be vigilant about the online activities of their children and warn children that the strangers they meet on popular social media sites, apps and gaming platforms may be out to harm them. We will continue to work overtime to arrest child predators and those who participate in the cruel exploitation of children by sharing child sexual abuse materials.”

Predators’ Track Record in Play

The attorney general also said that three of the people arrested have been charged in separate incidents for sexually assaulting children.

A registered sex offender from Oklahoma, Aaron Craiger, 34, became the first arrest on March 18 when he traveled to Atlantic City to meet with men who offered him access to underage girls for sex.

“In reality, the defendant had communicated with undercover investigators from the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations. One investigator pretended to offer his 12-year-old daughter for sex, and the other, his girlfriend’s 11-year-old daughter. Craiger, who had condoms with him when arrested, also allegedly possessed and distributed child sexual abuse materials,” Fox 5NY wrote.

Another individual, Jason Berry, 40, from New Jersey was arrested for allegedly exploiting a young teenage girl on social media and using manipulation techniques to coerce her into sending nude pictures of herself.

Charges Keep Mounting for Child Charges

Over a dozen more men were charged with possessing and/or distributing child sexual abuse materials.

“Our children are at an increased risk to fall victim to opportunistic online predators during this pandemic, as students have no choice but to turn to their devices to connect with friends and family and in many cases to prepare for remote learning,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The State Police will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, and we will be unrelenting in our efforts to keep our children safe, but we cannot do it alone. We urge all parents and guardians to have conversations with your children about the dangers that exist on the internet and to closely monitor their online activity.”

With the recent investigation, 21 horrific sexual predators are now off the streets and cannot, for now, re-offend.

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