Filipino nurse among 24 men nabbed in New Jersey sex sting

Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Sep 20 2018 04:21 AM

NEW JERSEY - A Filipino nurse was among 24 men arrested in a sting operation in New Jersey, US law enforcement officials said Tuesday.

He was identified as Christopher Vargas, 29, of Toms River, New Jersey.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said the suspects used social media to lure underage boys and girls for sex.

The suspects showed up at a house to meet teens for sex, only to find out their supposed victims were undercover agents, he said.

According to the Attorney General's Office, Vargas was reportedly chatting with a 15-year-old boy.

Vargas was charged with second degree attempted luring or enticing a child with a purpose to commit a criminal offense against the child.

"We want child predators to know that we are on social media too... and that the next child they target may be the undercover officer waiting for them who puts them in handcuffs. That is the message of Operation Open House," Grewal said.

In an email to ABS-CBN News, the Attorney General's Office said that Vargas has been released pending trial with monitoring conditions.

Second-degree charges carry a sentence of 5 to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Grewal urged parents to keep their children safe when using the Internet.

"It’s absolutely critical that parents familiarize themselves with these apps, just as you are vigilant about a stranger approaching your child in a park," he said. 

"You need to be equally, if not more vigilant, about the dangers lurking in these cyber playgrounds. Make sure that the apps on your children’s devices are age-appropriate," he added.