US dismantles huge international child porn website

March 18, 2014
US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson speaks during a press conference at the headquarters of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement on March 18, 2014 in Washington, DC

The United States announced Tuesday it has dismantled a massive international online child pornography ring, one of the largest such operations ever uncovered.

Authorities said they arrested and charged 14 suspects in the secret, members-only online network, which had more than 27,000 subscribers.

The website's juvenile victims, who numbered more than 250, reside in five foreign countries and 39 US states, officials said.

Authorities said the victims, were, for the most part, boys between the ages of 10 and 17.

Among the countries where victims were found are Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Belgium.

The organization is "one of the largest known online child exploitation operations in history," Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson told reporters.

Among the suspects taken into custody was Jonathan Johnson, 27, the administrator of the website, which operated out the southern US state of Louisiana.

If convicted, Johnson faces 20 years to life in prison, said Kenneth Allen Polite, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

"These indictments represent a strong coordinated strike... against child pornography and those who allegedly seek to harm our most vulnerable citizens, our young children," Polite said.

The illicit website operated on a hidden service board on the Tor network from about June 2012 until June 2013, when Johnson was arrested.

The Tor network is set up to conceal user's location, making it possible to maintain online anonymity.

Authorities said at the time it was dismantled, the illegal website contained more than 2,000 shared webcam-captured videos of mostly juvenile boys enticed by the website's operators to produce sexually explicit material.

The investigation, which officials said is continuing, was carried out by DHS and the cybercrime unit of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the US Postal Inspection Services.

Explore further: New Zealand smashes global child pornography ring

Related Stories

New Zealand smashes global child pornography ring

May 22, 2012

A global network that used social networking sites such as Facebook to distribute child pornography has been smashed after a tip-off from New Zealand authorities, officials said Tuesday.

International operation nabs 245 child porn suspects

January 3, 2013

An international police operation into child pornography led to the arrest of 245 people and the rescues of 123 children, mostly in the US, the US immigration enforcement agency announced Thursday.

Gov't cancels plan to collect license plate data

February 19, 2014

The Homeland Security Department has abruptly reversed course on plans to allow a private company to give it access to a nationwide database of license plate tracking information.

Recommended for you

US Navy keeps electromagnetic cannon in its sights

June 25, 2016

The US Navy is quietly pushing ahead with a radical new cannon that one day could transform how wars are fought, even though some Pentagon officials have voiced concerns over its cost and viability.

Ultra-thin solar cells can bend around a pencil

June 20, 2016

Scientists in South Korea have made ultra-thin photovoltaics flexible enough to wrap around the average pencil. The bendy solar cells could power wearable electronics like fitness trackers and smart glasses. The researchers ...

Mapping coal's decline and the renewables' rise

June 23, 2016

Even as coal-fired power plants across the U.S. are shutting down in response to new environmental regulations and policy mandates, defenders of the emissions-heavy fuel still have cost on their side. Coal, after all, is ...

Electric racing car breaks world record

June 23, 2016

The Formula Student team at the Academic Motorsports Club Zurich (AMZ) accomplished its mission today: the grimsel electric racing car accelerated from 0 to 100 km/h in just 1.513 seconds and set a new world record. It reached ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Maggnus
5 / 5 (3) Mar 18, 2014
I hope they catch and convict every single person subscribed to that site! I'd like it better if they were all put out in a field for live target practice.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.