Burlington County (NJ) Prosecutor Scott Coffina announced on February 17th that the second round of a multi-agency investigation fueled by an increase in threatening online activity towards children during the ongoing pandemic has resulted in the arrests of 15 individuals on charges such as possessing and distributing child sexual assault material and other more serious offenses.
Among those arrested and charged was Mark Garagozzo, 31, of Walnut Street in Ambler. Garagozzo was charged on September 10, 2020 with Endangering the Welfare of a Child (Second Degree) and is accused Garagozzo is accused of Possessing Child Sexual Abuse Material. Garagozzo was arrested in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2020 with the assistance of the United States Homeland Security Investigations Philadelphia Field Office and the Ambler Borough Police Department.
“Operation Safe Quarantine II is the latest result of our pledge to patrol cyberspace and capture the depraved individuals who believe it is acceptable to exploit and endanger children for sexual gratification,” Prosecutor Coffina said. “There is much more work to be done, and this effort will continue to be a priority for the BCPO and the agencies who partnered with us for this investigation.”
According to the announcement, the number of cyber tips received by law enforcement agencies in New Jersey increased substantially during the pandemic. The New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received nearly 2,400 cyber tips for the five-month period ending December 31, 2020. In the last six months, the BCPO High-Tech Crimes Unit has received 74.
The cases are being prepared for presentation to a grand jury for possible indictment. The defendants will be prosecuted by Assistant Prosecutors Joseph Remy and Jennifer Weiler. These apprehensions follow the initial round of 10 arrests made during the first phase of Operation Safe Quarantine.