Juan C. Alvarez, 33, of Egg Harbor, was among those arrested as part of “Operation Predator Alert” on Oct. 2. His bail was set at $100,000.
Special agents with the Cherry Hill Office of HSI began monitoring a file sharing network that is popular with offenders in June, Hoffman said. They were looking for telltale “fingerprints” and search terms that are popular among offenders. They were able to identify state residents who were making child pornography videos available to others in shared folders.
Agents allegedly downloaded videos each defendant’s computer during the investigation, and subsequently made arrests between Sept. 30 and Oct. 24.
Those arrested will be the first subjected to the state’s new strict child pornography law signed Aug. 14 by Gov. Chris Christie, Hoffman said. All but one of those arrested are charged with possession of child pornography under the new statute.
It’s expected most of them will be prosecuted under the new statute for distribution if forensic evidence shows there was child pornography in “shared folders” on their computers at the time of their arrests, Hoffman said.
Under the new penalty, those convicted of distributing 25 or more computer files of child pornography face a mandatory state prison sentence of five years without possibility of parole. Anyone found to have 100 or more files of child pornography will face a presumptive sentence of three to five years in state prison.
“The claim that viewing child pornography online is a victimless crime is yet another affront to the victims whose images and cries can never be erased from the Internet,” Hoffman said in a prepared statement. “Each time we identify a viewer who has re-victimized children by taking perverse pleasure in their agony, we will seek justice for that crime.”
Charges of possession of child pornography are upgraded from a fourth-degree offense to a third-degree offense under the new legislation. Distribution charges remain a second-degree offense.
“By subjecting offenders to parole supervision for life under Megan’s Law, our new child pornography law recognizes that those who get sexual gratification from these abhorrent images pose a real danger to children,” Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said. “Operation Predator Alert is aptly named because we are sounding the alarm about deviants who troll the Internet for images of children being raped and tortured.”
The complete list of those charged on Monday is as follows:
* Huahao “Howard” Chang, 30, of Somerset. Arrest, Sept. 30. Bail, $75,000.
* Jeffrey M. Mander, 25, of Bridgeton. Arrest, Oct. 1. Bail, $50,000.
* Juan C. Alvarez, 33, of Egg Harbor. Arrest, Oct. 2. Bail, $100,000.
* Mark V. Miller, 66, of Millville. Arrest, Oct. 3. Released without bail.
* Cristian Gonazalez-Araya, 33, of Trenton. Arrest, Oct. 7. Bail, $100,000.
* Juan S. Montoya, 24, of Pennsauken. Arrest, Oct. 8. Bail, $100,000.
* Mitchell Beard, 32, of Lower Township. Arrest, Oct. 9. Bail, $75,000.
* Jackson Beard, 32, of Lower Township. Arrest, Oct. 9. Bail, $75,000.
* James Hooker, 66, Eastampton. Arrest, Oct. 10. Bail, $75,000.
* Francis “Frank” P. Gillice, 63, of Cape May Court House. Arrest, Oct. 15. Bail, $75,000.
* Brian S. Bell, 40, of Woodstown. Arrest, Oct. 16. Bail, $40,000.
* Celalleti “Steve” Koc, 25, of Hamilton (Mercer County). Arrest, Oct. 17. Bail, $40,000.
* Cesar Urena-Valverde, 30, of Trenton. Arrest, Oct. 22. Bail, $100,000.
* Jason Block, 33, of Wrightstown. Arrest, Oct. 24. Bail, $100,000. Fugitive from Colorado.