Child Porn Ring Busted,
20 Children Rescued Worldwide
is to die for in those pigtails,” read one message. “I
have a few 5yo [year old] Taras that you do not have,” read
another. “Just dropping in for a hot minute … to help
out the dry spell, and to give everyone something to do for an
afternoon,” said still one more.
Agent Arnold Bell, who heads the FBI’s Innocent Images
hard comments to read—when you know that they were posted
in a massive secret child pornography newsgroup on the web.
network was exposed this week, thanks to a global law enforcement
operation spanning five countries, three continents, and 11
U.S. states. As part of the continuing investigation, a total
of 22 men have been arrested, including 14 in America, four
in Germany, and two each in Australia and the U.K.
satisfying: over the course of the months-long multinational
operation, more than 20 victims have been rescued, mostly in
Europe where the pornographic materials were being produced.
Investigative efforts to identify more victims—which
have included toddlers, teens, and others who experienced horrific
sexual abuse—are ongoing.
international investigation was groundbreaking in three main
1) It dismantled
one of the largest (more than 400,000 images and videos were
posted, traded, and trafficked) and most sophisticated child
exploitation rings we’ve ever come across. For example,
the group used powerful encryption tools to keep the operation
secret and a multi-layered system to vet new members. “These
people went to a lot of trouble to keep from being discovered,” said
Steve Tidwell, the FBI Executive Assistant Director who oversees
our national criminal programs. “They had a level of
operational security that we’ve not seen before.”
2) It marked
the first use in the United States of the “child exploitation
enterprise” provisions of the Adam Walsh Act of 2006.
The ring, in fact, was run very much like a business, with
various players handling different roles, direction coming
from the top down, and the sadistic images serving as currency.
Again, a sophisticated operation.
3) It involved
extensive real-time and high-level global cooperation, with
countries sharing not only information and intelligence but
actual investigators. The operation began in January 2006 when
an officer of the Queensland Police Services in Australia learned
about the group. Since a number of the members were living
in the U.S., Queensland authorities came to the FBI that June;
we launched our investigation two months later, working through
our Innocent Images National Initiative. The officer who infiltrated
the ring came to U.S. and worked with us directly through our
International Innocent Images Task Force in our command center
in suburban Maryland. We sent agents to Australia as well.
Also participating in the investigation were the BKA Child
Pornography Unit in Germany, the Child Exploitation and Online
Protection Centre in the United Kingdom, and the Toronto Police
Department in Canada.
have nothing but gratitude for the FBI and its Innocent Images
program,” said Chief Superintendent Ross Barnett of the
Queensland Police Services. “This operation wouldn’t
have been a success without the investigative expertise
and support the Bureau brought to the table.”
And we, in
turn, thank Chief Superintendent Barnett and our other global
partners for a truly seamless operation that helped take down,
in the words of one of the defendants, “the greatest
group of pedos to ever gather in one place.”
of Vast Child Exploitation Enterprise Indicted
(FBI) A federal grand jury in Pensacola, Florida. has returned
a 35-count indictment against 12 individuals who engaged in a
criminal enterprise involving the advertisement, transportation,
and shipment of child pornography over a two-year period, Assistant
Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division, U.S.
Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Gregory R. Miller,
and FBI Executive Assistant Director J. Stephen Tidwell announced
According to the indictment, the 12 men participated
since August 2006 in a highly-sophisticated and well-organized
scheme to proliferate
child sex abuse images to the organization’s membership.
Until the group was dismantled by law enforcement, members of
the group utilized Internet newsgroups – or large file-sharing
networks where text, software, pictures and videos can be traded
and shared – to traffic in illegal images and videos depicting
prepubescent children, including toddlers, engaged in various
sexual and sadistic acts. The group utilized sophisticated encryption
methods to avoid detection and traded over 400,000 images and
videos of child sexual abuse before being dismantled. The charges
were developed after law enforcement infiltrated the group.
The indictment charges the 12 defendants with numerous federal
crimes, including engaging in a child exploitation enterprise,
conspiracy, advertisement of child pornography, transportation
of child pornography, receipt of child pornography, and obstruction
of justice. Charged in the indictment are:
Berger , 33, of Mechanicsville , Va. ;
47, of Santa Rosa Beach , Fla. ;
55, of Medford , Ore. ;
54, of Anderson , Ind. ;
33, of Indianapolis , Ind. ;
McGarity , 40, of Medina , Texas ;
46, of Waterbury , Conn. ;
63, of Spokane , Wash.;
Roy, 54, of San Juan Capistrano , Calif. ;
, 46, of Round Rock, Texas ;
56, of Boise , Idaho ; and
59, of Burlington , N.C.
If convicted of these offenses, each defendant faces a prison
sentence of at least 20 years, up to a maximum of life imprisonment,
in addition to applicable statutory fines.
Two additional defendants associated with this case were arrested
on criminal complaints on February 29, 2008 . They are Stepan
Bondarenko, 38, of Philadelphia , Pa. and Daniel Castleman, 43,
of Lubbock , Texas .
The case was brought as part of Project Safe
Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children
from online exploitation
and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Project
Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to
better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit
children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims.
For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S.
Attorney David Goldberg of the Northern District of Florida
and Trial Attorney
LisaMarie Freitas of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section
of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. The case
was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the
Queensland , Australia Police Service, with the assistance of
the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) Child Pornography Unit in Germany
, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the
United Kingdom , and the Toronto , Canada Police Department.