Prosecutors say the 12 defendants used social media and chat apps to arrange for sex with underage girls and boys, but instead, they communicated with undercover officers.
“Operation Spotlight” was conducted by the Somerset County prosecutor’s office working with the FBI.
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Investigators say they are constantly looking at online threats, especially during the pandemic.
“In particular because of, you know, the isolation of our children during this pandemic, sitting at home, you know, on their iPhones, on their iPads,” said Craig Carpenito, U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey. “We’re gonna continue, this is just the beginning, so if you’re out there doing this stuff, we’re going to find you, we’re going to catch you and we’re going to put you in jail.”
The defendants face several charges, including promoting prostitution of a child and attempted sexual assault of a minor.
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