TRENTON – Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that a Middlesex County man has been sentenced to prison for distributing child pornography online. He was arrested in “Operation Statewide,” a child pornography sweep conducted by the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which includes the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, and numerous state, county and local law enforcement agencies.
Armando Guerrero, 54, of Milltown, N.J., was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison, including 2 ½ years of parole ineligibility, by Superior Court Judge Benjamin S. Bucca Jr. in Middlesex County. He pleaded guilty on Jan. 29 to second-degree distribution of child pornography and third-degree possession of child pornography. He will be required to register as a sex offender under Megan’s Law.
Deputy Attorney General Marie McGovern prosecuted Guerrero and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau.
In pleading guilty, Guerrero admitted that he knowingly used file-sharing software to make multiple files of child pornography available for other users to download from a “shared folder” on his computer. While monitoring a peer-to-peer file-sharing network popular with sex offenders, a detective of the New Jersey State Police Digital Technology Investigations Unit (DTIU) downloaded videos of child pornography from a shared folder at a computer IP address that was traced to Guerrero. Guerrero was arrested on July 21, 2016 when members of the State Police executed a search warrant at his home and seized his computer devices, which held more than 100 videos of child pornography.
“Offenders like Guerrero who collect and distribute these abhorrent materials online participate in the sexual exploitation of children through their actions,” said Attorney General Grewal. “We will continue to use New Jersey’s tough child pornography law to send these criminals to prison.”
“We want these offenders to know that when they use these file-sharing networks to distribute child pornography, they are sharing evidence of their crimes with law enforcement,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to collaborate with the New Jersey State Police and our other law enforcement partners to arrest these offenders and protect innocent children from continued re-victimization.”
“Predators like Guerrero use file-sharing software to distribute and share disturbing images and videos which victimize innocent and defenseless children,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “The detectives from the Digital Technology Investigations Unit will continue to work collaboratively with our local, county and state partners to protect our children and pursue these deviant offenders.”
Operation Statewide was a multi-agency child pornography sweep coordinated by the New Jersey State Police, as lead agency for the New Jersey ICAC Task Force, which led to arrests of 40 men in 2016, including defendants in every county of New Jersey. During the operation, investigators linked all of the defendants to alleged use of the Internet to download and distribute child pornography. Peer to Peer, or P2P, file sharing networks play a major role in the distribution of child pornography. There is a large library of images and videos known to law enforcement, and these electronic files can be traced in various ways on the Internet. Detectives downloaded child pornography that the defendants allegedly offered from their computers on P2P networks, tracing the files to their origin locations.
The file-sharing networks used by offenders to distribute child pornography operate in the same manner as websites used for privately sharing music or movies. Those in possession of the illegal images can make them available on computers that they control for others to download. Because many of these videos and photos of child pornography keep recirculating, they result in the perpetual re-victimization of the children who were sexually assaulted or abused to produce them.
Attorney General Grewal commended the detectives of the New Jersey State Police DTIU and members of the other agencies in the New Jersey ICAC Task Force who conducted Operation Statewide, as well as the attorneys who participated in the investigations and are prosecuting the cases.
Attorney General Grewal and Director Allende urged anyone with information about distribution of child pornography on the Internet – or about suspected improper contact by unknown persons communicating with children via the Internet or possible exploitation or sexual abuse of children – to please contact the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Tipline at 888-648-6007.
William Harth, Esq., Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, PA, Clark, N.J., and James Curran, Esq., Milltown, N.J.
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