TRENTON — Authorities say 168 people in Mercer County were arrested during a three-day child support sweep that spanned 21 New Jersey counties.

According to Mercer County Sheriff Jack Kemler, the sweep began at about 5 a.m. on Sept. 20 and continued through late evening on Sept. 22. Authorities say teams of federal, state and county officers targeted 185 "deadbeat" parents in Mercer County. Of those taken into custody for failing to pay child support, Kemler said, 173 were men and 12 were women.

“In most every instance, those caught in the sweep intentionally ducked out of paying their court-ordered child support obligations," Kemler said. “Many of those taken into custody habitually evaded paying support for their children.”

The sheriff said the arrests and collection were the highest ever made in the county during a single sweep. Authorities collected more than $64,000, which will be distributed by the NJ Family Support Payment Center of Mercer Count.

According to police, most of those apprehended in the sweep "claimed they lack the means to make their court-ordered child support payments." As a condition of their release from custody, however, police gave them the opportunity to pay the full amount of child support owed, or schedule payments.

Toniann Antonelli is a social content producer for NJ 101.5. She can be reached at toniann.antonelli@townsquaremedia.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.

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