The Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office High-Tech Crimes Unit (HTCU) is partnering with local police departments to conduct reactive and proactive investigations into crimes involving the use of technology, including computers, cell phones and telecommunications equipment.
In particular, the unit examines devices related to investigations of child exploitation, hacking and network intrusion.
Additionally, the High-Tech Crimes Unit provides awareness and resources regarding cybersecurity, internet crimes and new advances in technology. This education is provided to the community and educators, prioritizing keeping children safe online.
According to county officials, the GCPO HTCU and Special Victims Units have both seen an influx of internet crimes against children in the past year due to the dependence on and increased use of cell phones, tablets and computers used for educational and personal use during the pandemic.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, children have been online using various social media applications, chat rooms, and various gaming platforms more often than they were before.
Each of these are prime online locations where sexual predators will attempt to solicit and exploit conversation with children for the purpose of enticing them for explicit purposes.
Education and resources have become paramount to protecting vulnerable children in Gloucester County from dangers online.
County officials, in February, in recognition of Internet Safety Awareness Month, the GCPO HTCU undertook a number of proactive efforts to raise awareness and vigilance, provide education and resources, and worked with partner agencies to conduct a series of investigations into online child exploitation.
The GCPO distributed educational resources and tips for parents regarding children’s use and activity, posting that information on the Child Advocacy Center of Gloucester County’s Facebook page “GC Child Advocacy Center-CAC.”
A priority was highlighting the dangers of the internet for children and ways that parents can safeguard their children.
According to officials, the GCPO HTCU collaborated during February with the New Jersey State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local municipalities in Gloucester County to proactively investigate child exploitation.
Six residential search warrants were executed, which resulted in the arrest of three individuals.
According to county officials on February 9, Timothy M. Tirro, 38, of Westville, was arrested and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child subsequent to executing a search warrant at his residence.
Officials stated that on March 7, Wayne Neumann Flood, 27, of West Deptford, was arrested and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child subsequent to the execution of a search warrant at his residence on February 23.
On February 28, Ryan Zatzariny of Woodbury, was arrested and charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Child subsequent to a search warrant executed at his residence.
If you think you have seen a missing child or to report child sexual exploitation, contact the GCPO, your local law enforcement agency or call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) 24-hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or online at www.cybertipline.org.