Authorities in New Jersey announced Wednesday the arrest of some 30 individuals on charges of online child exploitation through Operation 24/7, which addressed the increased dangers faced by children on the Internet during the coronavirus pandemic with its increased use.
Those arrested following the 3-month operation range in age from 18 to 65, and face a variety of charges, including attempted human trafficking, attempted sexual assault, criminal sexual contact, distribution of obscene material of a minor, and production, distribution and possession of child sexual abuse material.
The main defendants include Ryan Olson, 20, who law enforcement said solicited girls to play a social media “game” in which he offered money and prizes in exchange for sexually explicit material, and Ndachi Ndungu, 25, who extorted a 12-year-old girl on social media to send him explicit photos.
Law enforcement investigations were initiated as a result of a series of tips received by the New Jersey Regional Division of Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), as the number of reports received in the first 6 months of 2021 had increased significantly, specifically 39% more than all the tips received in 2019.
The operation involved several local divisions of New Jersey law enforcement, including the Burlington, Camden, Essex, Essex, Monmouth and Warren County District Attorney’s Offices, in addition to the Gloucester Township Police Department.
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“We will never relent in our efforts to root out and arrest anyone involved in the depraved network of criminals who seek to sexually assault children, as well as those who share child pornography on the internet,” New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said in a statement.