Feds arrest 14 in huge child porn bust; 4 E. Texas children amon - FOX Carolina 21

Feds arrest 14 in huge child porn bust; 4 E. Texas children among hundreds of victims

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The underground website was a hidden service board on the Tor network and operated from about June 2012 until June 2013, at which time the site contained more than 2,000 videos and had more than 27,000 members. (Source: ICE) The underground website was a hidden service board on the Tor network and operated from about June 2012 until June 2013, at which time the site contained more than 2,000 videos and had more than 27,000 members. (Source: ICE)
An image from the website that the child porn ring operated (Source: ICE) An image from the website that the child porn ring operated (Source: ICE)
WASHINGTON D.C. (KLTV) - Fourteen men are in federal custody accused of operating a child pornography website, announced Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday. The effort is one of the largest online child exploitation investigations in the history of ICE, involving victims across the United States and the world.

Investigators have identified 251 minor victims in 39 states and five foreign countries. Of those 251 from the United States, special agents from Dallas identified 15 victims throughout north Texas as part of this operation. Five of these victims were identified from Dallas; four from Tyler; three from Lubbock; two from San Angelo; and one victim was identified from Amarillo.

The majority of victims, 159, were 13 to 15 years old. Fifty nine victims were 16 and 17; 26 victims were 10 to 12; four victims were 7 to 9; one victim was 4 to 6; and two victims were 3 years old or younger. All victims have been contacted by law enforcement and U.S. victims offered support services from HSI victim assistance specialists.

"Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child exploitation investigation," said ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale. "Our agency is seeing a growing trend where children are being enticed, tricked and coerced online by adults to produce sexually explicit material of themselves. While we will continue to prioritize the arrest of child predators, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem: education is the key to prevention."

"A lot of these victims did not realize they were victims. They had no idea the individuals on the other side of that camera were actually recording them," said David Marwell, Special Agent in Charge of ICE HSI in Dallas. 

Johnson says fourteen men were running the website on the Darknet's Onion Router, also known as Tor. They have been arrested and charged as part of a conspiracy to operate a child exploitation enterprise, following an extensive investigation that spanned three continents.

The website's primary administrator, Jonathan Johnson, 27, of Abita Springs, La., has been charged with operating a child exploitation enterprise. He admitted to creating multiple fake female personas on popular social networks to target and sexually exploit children. Authorities say he also coached other child predators in his inner circle to do the same. Jonathon Johnson has been in federal custody since his arrest June 13, 2013, and faces 20 years to life in prison.

The underground website was a hidden service board on the Tor network and operated from June 2012 to June 2013. By June 2013, the site had more than 2,000 videos and more than 27,000 members. The website shared webcam videos of mostly juvenile boys enticed by operators of the site to produce pornographic material.

Tor enables online anonymity, directing web traffic through a volunteer network consisting of thousands of relays to conceal a user's location.

The investigation was dubbed ‘Operation Round Table' and began with the arrest of Jonathan Johnson by USPIS and HSI. Further computer forensic analysis by HSI revealed Jonathan Johnson to be the creator and administrator of the underground website. Ten additional individuals have been arrested and charged in the Eastern District of Louisiana as the primary operators, contributors and producers of material for the child exploitation enterprise:

  • Daniel Nolan Devor, 39, of Brunswick, Ga., charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography, distribution of child pornography and receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors
  • John C. Foster, 44 of Tipp City, Ohio, charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors
  • Aung Gaw aka Michael Gaw, 25, of Fremont, Calif., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Vittorio Francesco Gonzalez-Castillo, 26, of Tucson, Ariz., charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography
  • Sean Jabbar, 32, of Minneapolis, Minn., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Christopher Jamieson, 30, of Douglassville, Ga., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Andrew Korpal, 29, of Granger, Ind., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Nicholas Saine, 27, of Seattle, Wash., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Christopher Schwab, 25 of New Orleans, charged with production of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and receipt of child pornography
  • Stanley Zdon, III, 27, of Tuckerton, N.J., charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography

More than 300 investigations have been opened into potential subscribers of the website: 150 in the United States and 150 overseas. Investigators anticipate ongoing arrests and additional identification of victims as they continue to examine and analyze the more than 40 terabytes of data seized.

"If this touches a household and these caregivers have these conversations with their kids, that's the only way we're going to make this problem go away," Marwell said. 

Last fiscal year, 2,099 child predators were arrested by HSI on criminal charges related to the online sexual exploitation of children. In 2012, 1,655 child predators were arrested, 1,335 were arrested in 2011, and 912 were arrested in 2010. Since 2003, HSI has initiated more than 29,000 cases and arrested more than 10,000 individuals for these types of crimes.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Tips can also be made through HSI's Operation Predator smartphone app, which can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/1eixbIM. Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-THE-LOST.

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