News Department

12 men arrested in “Operation Spotlight”

SOMERVILLE, NJ (Somerset County) – Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson, U.S. Attorney/District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of Detectives John W. Fodor and Special Agent in Charge George M. Crouch, Jr., FBI Newark Division announced Tuesday the arrest of 12 alleged child predators in “Operation Spotlight”.

Prosecutor Robertson said, “Operation Spotlight” was a multi-agency undercover operation that sought individuals using social media applications to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity. These “underage children” were actually undercover law enforcement officers who are specially trained in internet undercover operations. The defendants arrested in this operation initiated contact based on profiles posted by the undercover law enforcement officers on various social media platforms. Once chatting began, the undercover officers clearly identified themselves as underage girls or boys. Despite that information, the defendants engaged the “children” in conversations about sex and made arrangements to meet the “children” for sex. The defendants were arrested when they arrived at one of three pre-arranged locations in Somerset County, where they expected to find their victims.

The arrests in “Operation Spotlight” were made over a four-day period from October 15th through October 18th, 2020. Three defendants travelled to New Jersey from Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut with the intention of meeting with a “child’ for sex. The defendant’s charges range from first degree Promoting Prostitution of a child under the age of 18, to second-degree attempted luring, second-degree attempted sexual assault of a minor, and third-degree attempted endangering the welfare by debauching the morals of a child. The defendants will be either prosecuted by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office or federally by the United States Attorney’s Office District of New Jersey, Robertson said.

The undercover operation encompassed dozens of federal, state, and municipal law enforcement officers from around the State, forensic examiners, and attorneys from the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office. Electronic devices were seized from the defendants and examinations of those devices are ongoing. The investigative review of the forensic examinations is a lengthy process and will enable investigators to determine if the devices contain evidence of any prior encounters by the defendants with underage victims, which might constitute additional federal and state charges, Robertson said.

The following 12 men arrested during “Operation Spotlight” believed that they were communicating with a minor described in the parentheses:

  • Kyle C. Saludes, 34, Jersey City, N.J. (13 year old) Saludes is a HVAC technician. Saludes is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child, 3rd degree Possession of CDS (Alprazolam), 3rd degree Possession of CDS (MDMA), Disordely Persons Possession of CDS (Marijuana under 50 grams), and Disorderly Persons Possession of drug paraphernalia.
  • Quentin Anthony Blount, 28, Easton, P.A. (14 year old) Blount is employed as a distribution warehouse employee in Pennsylvania. Blount is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Digant R. Patel, 46, Warren, N.J. (14 year old) Patel is employed as a Vice President of a financial institution. Patel is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Tyler R. Mineo, 27, Bound Brook, N.J. (14 year old) Mineo is employed with a local supermarket. Mineo is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Christopher Matamoros-Rojas, 26, Hillsborough, N.J. (13 year old) Matamoros-Rojas is currently unemployed. Matamoros-Rojas is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Alexander Castillo-Velasquez, 34, Bound Brook, N.J. (14 year old) Castillo-Velasquez is a self-employed handy man. Castillo-Velasquez is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Jesus Modesto-Sanchez, 29, New York, N.Y. (13 year old) Modesto-Sanchez is employed at a professional financial firm in New York City. Modesto-Sanchez is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, 2nd degree Attempt to Manufacture Child Pornography and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Benjamin S. Burke, 27, Darien, CT. (12 year old) Burke is employed as a software engineer. Burke is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Cristian Medina, 34, Raritan, N.J. (14 year old) Medina is employed as a restoration technician. Medina is charged with 1st degree Promoting Prostitution of a child under the age of 18, 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Ryan S. Lee, 35, Trenton, N.J. (13 year old) Lee is employed as a warehouse employee. Lee is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Daviti R. Robakidze, 27, Bound Brook, N.J. (14 year old) Robakidze is employed as a retail worker. Robakidze is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.
  • Kevin M. Curcio, 27, North Brunswick, N.J. (13 year old) Curcio is employed as a warehouse employee. Curcio is charged with 2nd degree Attempted Luring, 2nd degree Attempted Sexual Assault, and 3rd degree Attempted Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

The following men were charged and lodged in the Somerset County Jail pending detention hearings. Quentin Anthony Blount, Jesus Modesto Sanchez and Ryan Lee were transferred to federal authorities.

“Our children and their online safety is the utmost concern to us at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office. Social media apps allow predators into our homes and as law enforcement, we must do what we can to make it a safer environment. We hope that this operation will continue to be eye-opening for parents. Although, 12 online child predators have been arrested, parents must learn the apps that their children are using and the inherent dangers within,” Robertson said.

(Photo: Courtesy Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office)

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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