52 arrested in U.S. and abroad for international child porn ring

Starting in December of 2009, a joint investigation by the Justice Department and Homeland Security targeted 500 people living in thirteen countries across five continents who they suspected were involved in a massive online child pornography ring.

This week it has been reported that the investigation has resulted in 72 people being charged with child pornography and sex crimes against children. So far, 52 people have been arrested and 13 of those people have pleaded guilty to sex crimes. Twenty people are still at large and only known by online identities.

The child porn ring shared images of sex crimes against children on an online bulletin board. The site was called “Dreamboard.” The Internet site was technologically sophisticated and members had to follow strict rules to be able to access the site. Members of the site had to post child porn that they produced on the site and could gain greater and additional access to the site the more content they produced and posted online. The site was only accessible by child porn producers and trusted members.

The federal agencies who headed the crackdown said that the arrests were a warning to people who participate on such sites that they will be caught, even if the website is hard to find and only accessible to members.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the federal crackdown on Dreamboard resulted in the confiscation of more than one million images of child porn in the U.S. The amount of material confiscated could fill 16 DVDs of child pornography. The images were graphic and gruesome and depicted violent sex crimes against children.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “72 charged in online child pornography ring,” Andrew Seidman, Aug. 3, 2011