Prosecutors see uptick in online predators as 8 charged in child porn bust

The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of Homeland Security have announced the arrest of eight people during a child pornography investigation dubbed “Operation Safe Quarantine.”

News 12 Staff

Jul 23, 2020, 10:53 PM

Updated 1,369 days ago

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The Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office and the Office of Homeland Security have announced the arrest of eight people during a child pornography investigation dubbed “Operation Safe Quarantine.”
Law enforcement officials say that they have noticed an uptick in child predator activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prosecutor Scott Coffina says that from mid-March to mid-July of 2019, they had 29 cyber-tips come into the office. But that number has doubled during the same time in 2020.
“Unfortunately, another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the opportunity for child predators to do their evil deeds has increased,” Coffina says.
Officials say that seven of the eight people arrested are charged for child pornography. One has already pleaded guilty.
Detectives in the county’s high-tech crime lab have been pulling evidence from computers and even cellphones.
“Whether it’s an email address, whether it’s an IP address, an IP address that goes back to a physical residence and so we start doing our investigation and try and identify who is behind that computer. Who is behind that account,” says Sgt. Dave Kohler.
Detectives say that they even disguise themselves as children in chat rooms where predators may lurk.
‘We would just go into a chat room and just sit there and if somebody would start a direct communication with us, the first thing we would tell them is our age. That’s the first thing most people will ask,” Kohler says.
Authorities say that the arrests are a reminder to parents to make sure they know what their child is doing on their phone, tablet or even gaming device.
“We are giving them a cellphone that has the world out there,” Kohler says.
Operation Safe Quarantine will continue and officials say that they expect more arrests in the near future.
 


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