Authorities in New Jersey announced Friday that they arrested 79 suspected sex offenders in a nine-month-long investigation aimed at protecting children from sexual predators.
The investigation, called “Operation Safety Net,” resulted in the apprehension of suspects ranging in age from 14 to 75 years old and included a police officer, swimming coach and youth minister, The Inquirer reported. The suspects were arrested for different sex offenses, including possession of child pornography, sending inappropriate photos to children and sexual assault.
New Jersey Attorney General Christopher Porrino said a California man and an Indiana man solicited undercover detectives to transport a young girl to their states so they could have sex with her. Porrino said the men they arrested “lurked in the shadows of the internet and on social media," FOX29 reported.
Authorities said 10 men were arrested outside New Jersey for attempting to traffic children from the state for sex, The Inquirer reported.
Authorities said they used an electronics-sniffing dog to help uncover devices and storage drives that are easily hidden.
“We’re even better equipped to uncover the evidence that will keep these offenders behind bars, where they cannot threaten or further exploit vulnerable victims,” Porrino wrote in a press release. “These cases highlight the fact that viewing child pornography is part of a continuum of deviant behavior that often leads to or drives other sex crimes.”
The Attorney General’s Office identified all of the 79 suspects and posted their photographs in a press release.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.