American, British and South Korean officials have busted one of the world’s largest child sexual exploitation networks. The news was announced by the officials during a press briefing in Washington on Wednesday. An analysis of a server, seized by South Korean authorities, revealed that the website had more than one million bitcoin addresses, signifying that the website had a capacity for at least one million users.
At least 23 minor victims have been rescued through the operation, the report said, adding all were residing in the United States, Spain and the United Kingdom, who were being actively abused by the users of the site.
According to US Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Downing, the internet-based child pornographic network was the world’s largest child sexual exploitation market by volume of content.
Officials said hundreds of suspects had been charged worldwide for their alleged involvement with the largest darknet child pornography website, funded by Bitcoin.
Authorities have also arrested 337 other users in the US states of Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State and Washington, DC.
According to media reports, some of the suspects were arrested in the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Brazil and Australia.
“Darknet sites that profit from the sexual exploitation of children are among the vilest and reprehensible forms of criminal behaviour,” said US Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski. “This administration will not allow child predators to use lawless online spaces as a shield.”
He said the US Department of Justice was working closely with partners in South Korea and around the world to rescue child victims and bring to justice the perpetrators of the abhorrent crimes.
Chief of the US Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Enforcement Don Fort told the news briefing that their agents played a key role in busting the network.
“Through the sophisticated tracing of bitcoin transactions, IRS-CE special agents were able to determine the location of the Darknet server, identify the administrator of the website and ultimately track down the website server’s physical location in South Korea,” he said.
“This large-scale criminal enterprise that endangered the safety of children around the world is no more,” Fort added.
According to the indictment, agents from the IRS, HSI, National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom, and Korean National Police in South Korea arrested Son and seized the server that he used to operate a darknet market that exclusively advertised child sexual exploitation videos available for download by members of the site.
The operation resulted in the seizure of approximately eight terabytes of child sexual exploitation videos, which is one of the largest seizures of its kind.
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