27 arrested in child porn sting as N.J. police investigation goes high tech

New Jersey State Police are going high-tech to crack down on child pornography. A sting dubbed “Operation Watchdog” has resulted in the arrests of 27 New Jersey residents ranging in age from 17 to 67.

Attorney General Jeff Chiesa said Tuesday the suspects are accused of sharing images of children being sexually assaulted or engaged in sexual acts. They’ve been charged with distribution and possession of child pornography.

“These images, as they’re sent and as they’re received, contain a digital fingerprint. That digital fingerprint allows the experts who are monitoring this stuff to find it both from the person sending it and from the person receiving it,” Chiesa said.

Detectives at a state police complex in Hamilton who use high-tech equipment to track the suspects are focusing on peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Chiesa said he hopes that cracking down on the demand for child porn will deter people from producing it.

Detective Sgt. Stan Field, a member of the state police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, said it’s horrible to see the material that’s distributed.

“For an average person that doesn’t have to deal with this on a daily basis, the first time that they would see it they would cringe. Some people I’ve seen in courtroom testimonies jurors have actually cried,” Field said. “So for … these detectives to deal with this on a daily basis is truly a credit to them.”

The arrests follow a three-month child pornography investigation in 20 New Jersey towns.

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