TRENTON (CBS) – Dozens of people have been rounded up as part of a nine-month long probe into child predators and kiddie porn in New Jersey.
Ten of the accused in “Operation Safety Net” are so-called “hands-on” suspects, charged with attempting to lure victims into personal encounters, two of them to Indiana and California, respectively. Also in that group are a youth minister and a camp counselor.
Sixty-nine others ranging in age from 14 to 75 are charged with possessing or distributing child porn.
“They included a Trenton police officer, a swimming coach, a piano teacher and an IT professional from Morris County,” New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino told KYW Newsradio.
That IT man is known to have possessed at least 138,000 files of pornography involving children and investigators fear that number could soar to over 1 million.
Some two dozen suspects hail from South Jersey.
Porrino unveiled a new tool in their war on internet crime, and finding where suspects might be hiding electronics storing pictures and videos.
“Our new state police K9, who we have aptly named Mega, helps to sniff out those devices,” Porrino said.
And the 2-year-old German Shepherd is the only police dog in the country trained not just to do that, but standard canine patrol work as well.
“It’s all a game to him,” one of Mega’s handlers said.
New Jersey State Police are also increasingly relying on a special mobile technology crime lab in child pornography cases. In the van there is a password decryption device, ways to instantly download the contents of confiscated items and other special tools to quickly handle evidence.
“It allows us to me quickly get a sense of what kind of case we’re dealing with,” Porrino said. “In some cases we can identify victims more quickly.”
During the announcement all state authorities stressed the importance of parents educating their children about online dangers, and keeping tabs on what websites and apps they are using.