A federal investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Cyber Crime Center has resulted in the arrests of 14 men in connection with a child pornography website. The investigation of at least 300 others remains ongoing. The website allegedly involved 251 children between the ages of 3 and 17, 12 of whom were from North Dakota.
The 14 men, who have been arrested so far in association with the computer crimes, were charged with conspiracy to operate a child exploitation enterprise. The alleged leader of the enterprise faces 20 years to life in prison. According to authorities, the website had more than 27,000 subscribers, many of whom are facing individual charges.
With the continuing evolution of more sophisticated technology, Internet sex crimes involving child pornography have become significantly more complex and difficult to prosecute. In this case, the website was not even located on the traditional Internet, but rather on “Darknet,” which is a hidden network not seen by the general public. It reportedly also used Tor, which is a service that conceals an Internet user’s location and browsing habits.
Child pornography is an extremely serious crime that carries very high penalties, as illustrated by the charges filed in this particular case. With such high stakes involved, it is advisable for a person accused of this type of crime to defend his or her rights with the assistance of legal counsel. Additionally, it is important that the criminal defense attorney chosen to represent such an individual is someone who has a familiarity with the technological aspects involved in computer crimes.
Source: Grand Forks Herald, “Authorities arrest 14 men in porn website involving 251 children, including 12 from ND,” Reuters Media, March 18, 2014