Federal Agents Crack Down on International Child Exploitation Ring
At the end of summer of last year, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that its agents had arrested 52 people as part of Operation Delago, an investigation into an international online child pornography ring. Federal agents began investigating the website called “Dreamboard,” a members-only bulletin board that authorities allege its creators used to “promote pedophilia and to encourage the sexual abuse of very young children,” in December 2009. The computer child pornography site was based in the U.S. but participants spanned five continents, residing in 14 countries.
Authorities have charged 72 people with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography in connection with its operation during the investigation. Thirteen suspects have already pled guilty. Federal agents currently know the remaining 20 people charged but not arrested only by their on-line identities but are continuing to investigate the matter. All those charged face up to twenty years in prison.
Those involved with Dreamboard took steps to prevent law enforcement from gaining access to the site. The administrators of the site required that prospective members upload a pornographic image involving a child 12 years old or younger before gaining access to the site. Once gaining admittance to the site’s content, members needed to continually upload images of child pornography in order to maintain membership. Site administrators protected the links to the images members added with passwords to prevent authorities from accessing them.
Site administrators “encouraged and incentivized the creation of child pornography,” in Attorney General Eric Holder’s words, by dividing members into ranks based on the amount of content members added to the site. A member advanced through the ranks by adding a large volume of images, submitting images that no one had seen before or by adding content they created. Images contained children ranging in age from 12 years old to infants.
Holder noted that the investigation and the arrests send a strong message to others who harm children and try to avoid authorities that the government is active in pursuing such offenders and putting an end to the exploitation of children.
A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
The possession and distribution of child pornography are serious crimes. If you or someone you love is facing prosecution for these sorts of crimes, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense lawyer can advise you about how best to protect your rights. For more information, contact a criminal defense attorney today.