HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBS/AP) — A Philadelphia minister and New Jersey police officer are among 16 men who allegedly tried to set up sexual encounters with people they thought were teenage boys and girls. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the arrests Wednesday.
They were made as part of “Operation Home Alone,” a multi-agency undercover sting that targeted people who allegedly used social media in an attempt to lure children. The underage “children” were really undercover officers.
“The 16 men we arrested allegedly used social media to stalk victims they believed were vulnerable children who could be sexually exploited. Fortunately, their victims were really undercover officers prepared to put them in handcuffs,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal. “Parents need to know that the profiles of underage girls and boys we posted on social media to catch these offenders could easily have been profiles of their own children, who might also be targeted by predators on chat apps and popular gaming sites. Our message to parents with Operation Home Alone is be on guard. Our message to child predators is law enforcement is working overtime to find you and arrest you.”
Gurbir said most of the defendants were arrested when they arrived at a residence in Bergen County, where they expected to find their victim home alone. The arrests were made from April 11-15.
Among those arrested was 37-year-old Roger Arroyo, a traveling minister from Philadelphia. Peter Tuchol Jr., 28, an officer with the Ridgewood Police Department, was also arrested. The department has suspended him.
Seven defendants traveled to the undercover house from locations in New York State, while another came from Philadelphia. The defendants face various charges including luring and attempted sexual assault.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)