TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Union County man who possessed approximately 350 videos and images of child pornography pleaded guilty today to distributing child pornography on the Internet. He was arrested last year in “Operation Safeguard,” a child pornography sweep conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice, ICE Homeland Security Investigations and the New Jersey State Police.
Dimas Zuniga, 45, of Roselle, N.J., pleaded guilty today to second-degree distribution of child pornography before Superior Court Judge Lisa Miralles Walsh in Union County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Zuniga be sentenced to five years in state prison. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law and will be subject to parole supervision for life. In pleading guilty, Zuniga admitted that he knowingly used file-sharing software to make multiple files containing child pornography readily available for any other user to download from a designated “shared folder” on his computer. Zuniga is scheduled to be sentenced on July 14.
Deputy Attorney General John Nicodemo prosecuted Zuniga and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, Computer Analysis & Technology Unit.
“Child pornography is a product that is manufactured by torturing and sexually exploiting young children, and criminals like Zuniga who distribute this product online contribute directly to that exploitation,” said Attorney General Porrino. “By sending offenders like Zuniga to prison, we hammer home the message that this is a very serious crime that will be met with stern punishment.”
“Through sweeps like Operation Safeguard, we will continue to lock up those who share child pornography online,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “While offenders like Zuniga might believe they can hide their abhorrent crimes in the privacy of their homes, we want them to know that their use of the internet places them directly in our sights.”
“Online sharing of child pornography motivates degenerates to continue to produce more sickening videos and images of tortured and abused children,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We are developing new strategies and equipping our detectives with state of the art tools to continue to catch criminals like Zuniga.”
“The distribution of child pornography is a global problem with local impact. Zuniga robbed children of their innocence and continued to sexually exploit them by freely trading the illegal images with predators around the world. HSI will continue to aggressively target those who prey upon and sexually exploit our children. We owe it to the young victims in these cases,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Brian A. Michael of Homeland Security Investigations in Newark.
During Operation Safeguard, special agents of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice, and detectives of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit monitored several online file-sharing networks that are popular with offenders who download and trade child pornography. Using advanced technology, the investigators searched for telltale digital “fingerprints” of known child pornography, as well as search terms used by those who download and share child pornography. Through these and other methods, they identified New Jersey residents who were downloading child pornography and making child pornography available to others in “shared folders” on their computers.
Zuniga was arrested on March 22, 2016, when agents and detectives conducting Operation Safeguard executed a search warrant at his residence. A detective of the New Jersey State Police previously had downloaded videos of child pornography from a shared folder at an IP address traced to Zuniga. During the search, detectives seized computer equipment belonging to Zuniga, including a hard drive that contained approximately 350 files of child pornography. The Roselle Police Department assisted in the operation. Zuniga was indicted on Jan. 19, 2017.
Deputy Attorney General Nicodemo, former Detective Tiffany Lenart, Detective Richard DaSilva and Detective Charles Pusloski investigated the case for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, in collaboration with detectives of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit and HSI agents.
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig urged anyone who has information about the distribution of child pornography on the Internet or who suspects improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children to contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
Natalia C. Diaz, Esq., The Diaz Law Firm LLC, Elizabeth, N.J.
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