The president of a financial institution and software engineer, as well as a Fairfield County resident, were among a dozen men who thought they were meeting a child for sex but instead, were arrested on the spot in an undercover New Jersey sting, authorities announced Tuesday, Oct. 27.
The 12 men in "Operation Spotlight" thought they were meeting up with children they'd met on various social media platforms, but instead, were arrested at various pre-arranged locations across Somerset County between Oct. 15 and Oct. 18, Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson and U.S. Attorney/District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito said in a joint statement.
Robertson and Carpenito made the announcement Tuesday alongside Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives John W. Fodor and Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr., FBI Newark Division.
"The defendants arrested in this operation initiated contact based on profiles posted by the undercover law enforcement officers on various social media platforms," Robertson said.
"Once chatting began, the undercover officers clearly identified themselves as underage girls or boys. Despite that information, the defendants engaged the 'children' in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet the 'children' for sex.
"The defendants were arrested when they arrived at one of three pre-arranged locations in Somerset County, where they expected to find their victims."
The 12 individuals arrested in "Operation Spotlight" were:
- Benjamin S. Burke, age 27, of Darien, a software engineer who thought he was meeting a 12-year-old.
- Kyle C. Saludes, age 34, HVAC technician, of Jersey City, NJ, thought he was meeting a 13-year-old.
- Quentin Anthony Blount, age 28, Bethlehem, PA, distribution warehouse employee who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old.
- Digant R. Patel, age 46, of Warren, NJ is a Vice President of a financial institution and thought he was meeting with a 14-year-old.
- Tyler R. Mineo, age 27, of, Bound Brook, NJ, works at a local supermarket and thought he was meeting a 14-year-old.
- Christopher Matamoros-Rojas, age 26, of Hillsborough, NJ, is unemployed and thought he was meeting a 13-year-old.
- Alexander Castillo-Velasquez, age 34, Bound Brook, NJ, self-employed handyman who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old.
- Jesus Modesto-Sanchez, age 29, New York City, works at a professional financial firm and thought he was meeting a 13-year-old.
- Cristian Medina, age 34, Raritan, NJ, a restoration technician who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old
- Ryan S. Lee, age 35, Trenton, NJ, a warehouse employee who thought he was meeting a 13-year-old
- Daviti R. Robakidze, age 27, of Bound Brook, NJ, a retail worker who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old
- Kevin M. Curcio, age 27, of North Brunswick, NJ, warehouse employee who thought he was meeting a 13-year-old.
The men were being held in the Somerset County Jail -- with the exception of three who were turned over to federal officials.
The joint operation was a collaboration between the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Victims Squad, Newark Field Office, Albany (New York) Field Office and Philadelphia Field Office. Other contributing agencies include:
“Our children and their online safety is the utmost concern to us at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office," Robertson said. "Social media apps allow predators into our homes and as law enforcement, we must do what we can to make it a safer environment. We hope that this operation will continue to be eye-opening for parents.:
"Although, 12 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within.”
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