Investigators probing the activities and the people behind one of the world’s “largest dark web child porn marketplaces” have made more than 300 arrests since the market place was taken down.
There were more than 200,000 videos on the site which had been downloaded more than a million times collectively. The existence of the website was uncovered during investigations in the United Kingdom into the activities of a child sex offender, following which the site was shut down by the security agencies.
The investigators have however recently disclosed that 337 people suspected to be users of the website have been arrested from 38 different countries.
Nine indictments against the site’s owner Jong Woo Son, 23, from South Korea was unsealed by US officials. Son is currently in prison in South Korea.
The arrests had been made in the UK, Ireland, America, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Canada – among others, the UK’s National Crime Agency said.
Almost eight terabytes of content involving child abuse was present in the website which was called Welcome to Video and was being run from South Korea. The total storage capacity of the website was more than enough to store hundreds or even thousands of hours of video footage.
The operators of the site offered videos of acts of sex involving children, infants and toddlers and the users of the site were specifically asked not to upload any videos that have adults-only pornography, prosecutors said.
UK’s National Crime Agency said that the site was “one of the first to offer sickening videos for sale using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.”
The site had reportedly been operational for three years and was later taken down by a task force that was international in nature because agencies involved in the task force were from the UK, the US, South Korea and Germany.
A probe into the alleged activities of paedophile Matthew Falder from England had led to the initial discovery of the site. Falder is in jail serving a 25 years term after found guilty of using the dark web for sharing abuse tips and images.
In connection with the investigation, courts have already convicted seven men in the United Kingdom. Those convicted include Kyle Fox who was jailed for 22 years last March for the rape of a five-year-old boy. He was also seen in the website sexually abusing a three-year-old girl.
The investigative agencies used cryptocurrency transactions and their trail back to the users used in the site to identify the suspects of the crime who were users of the site.
The details of the operation were disclosed in a press conference by the joint task force after it had rescued about 23 children from active abuse situations. The task force is still continuing ot investigating the trace of those children who had been shown in the videos on the website.
“Dark web child sex offenders…cannot hide from law enforcement,” the UK’s National Crime Agency investigations lead, Nikki Holland, said. “They’re not as cloaked as they think they are, they’re not as safe as they think they are.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)