It’s become semiannual event in the Garden State.

At the end of last month, sheriff’s officers joined forces with the U.S. Marshals service and other law enforcement officials to conduct a statewide sweep of those owing child support payments.

The latest sweep was conducted over a three-day period from Sept. 26 to 28.

“The total warrants that were served and brought in were 1,596,” said John Armeno, executive director of the Sheriffs Association of New Jersey.

The money collected from those individuals when they were taken into custody was $256,939, but “the total that was due — sit down on your pants on this one here" — was about $27.35 million.

He said when the raids are conducted, those arrested are brought before a judge “and the judge usually takes what they have on them, gives them three days to come back with some more money, and they’re all released. So nobody goes to jail."

Armeno said two statewide child support raids are publicized twice a year, but this activity takes place in different counties year-round.

“You have these men and women who have to pay child support [...] because they had children that they are responsible for and should be taken care of, but you can see by the numbers that are out there, they are not doing that,” he said.

Armeno said in Camden County, 243 warrants were served on individuals owing a combined total of $5,299,860. “But the total actually collected was $14,572.”

Mercer County had the most arrests.

A statement released by Mercer Sheriff Jack Kemler said most of the individuals arrested “deliberately avoided paying their court-ordered child support,” and “many had habitually evaded making payments, leaving their children without monies for adequate food or shelter.”

Armeno noted some parents who owe child support money move out of state so the sheriff’s department officers can’t go after them.

He said the message to parents owing child support is “we are there, we are very well aware that you are out there, that you are not supporting your family, and we’re looking for you all year long.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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