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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Four Men Arrested on Child Sexual Exploitation Charges

Four Men Arrested on Child Sexual Exploitation Charges

By Herald Staff

Robert Harkins was employed by the Cape May County Prosecutor's Office when the alleged information took place.

OCEAN CITY – Four South Jersey men have been arrested by the Police Department and a multijurisdictional task force on multiple charges related to child sexual exploitation.

Law enforcement personnel executed two residential search warrants at undisclosed addresses in Ocean City and filed a range of criminal charges, from attempted obscenity to attempted sexual assault.

As a result of the operation, titled Operation Blank Space, police arrested:

  • William B. Peraria, 66, of the 200 block of Massachusetts Avenue, Somers Point, who was charged with second-degree attempted sexual assault, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree attempted obscenity;
  • Jeffrey K. Dragon, 37, of the 400 block of Poinsette Avenue, Pitman, who was charged with second-degree endangering, second-degree attempted sexual assault, third-degree attempted luring and third-degree attempted obscenity;
  • Marc Anthony Carroll, 34, of the 2100 block of Hamilton Drive, Voorhees, who was charged with second-degree attempted luring, third-degree endangering the welfare of a child and fourth-degree attempted criminal sexual contact, and
  • Kristofer Laud, 38, of the 1500 block of Weatherby Road, Woodbine, who was charged with third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

Operation Blank Space was carried out over two days in Ocean City and led by the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crimes Unit, the New Jersey Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Ocean City Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations. The investigation was assisted by other local and state law enforcement agencies.

According to a press release issued jointly by Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland and Ocean City Police Chief William Campbell, the operation used advanced technology, forensic analysis and undercover techniques to arrest the four men. Investigators searched through various online platforms to identify those exploiting children, grooming them for illegal activities and sharing harmful child sexual abuse materials.

Sutherland recognized the numerous agencies that assisted with the investigation, saying: “As technology advances, so do the illicit activities of those among us who exploit children to satisfy their own depraved sexual needs and for economic gain. Without the talented and dedicated members of our office and our partner agencies we would not be able to shut down these operations and remove these dangerous people from our community. Always be cognizant about what you share and what your children are doing on electronic devices and on the various social media platforms.”

Agencies joining the Prosecutor’s Office included the prosecutor offices of Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean and Mercer counties, the Avalon, Cape May City, Middle Township, Ocean City and Voorhees police departments, the Cape May County Sheriff’s Department, Homeland Security Investigations-Atlantic City, the State Police and the State Police’s Internet Crimes Against Children unit.

Law enforcement agencies urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities involving the exploitation of children. Sutherland urges the citizens of Cape May County to report any information regarding illegal drug activity or any criminal activity to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office at 609-465-1135, anonymously on the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office website at cmcpo.tips, to the Cape May County Sheriff’s Tip Line at cmcsheriff.net (click on anonymous tip) or to the Cape May County Crime Stoppers at 609-889-3597.

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