Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 09:55 AM EDT, 5 August 2011
U.S. federal government officials announced the arrests of 52 people involved in an international online child pornography ring that exploited children through a bulletin board with the moniker "Dreamboard."
The arrests were the culmination of an investigation launched in late 2009. Code named 'Operation Delego," this phase of the investigation was an out growth of an earlier sting instigated to capture online child sexual predators. To date a total of 72 defendants have been charged and more than 500 additional people have been indicted for their participation in this heinous child sexual exploitation and rape ring.
'Dreamboard,' a members-only, online bulletin board created and operated to promote pedophilia, first came to the attention of authorities in 2009. Members hail from five continents and 13 countries including Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Serbia and Sweden.
In a perverse parody of due diligence, the board's administrators rigorously screened applicants to validate that future participants' predilections were prurient enough for membership. When applying for membership applicants were required to submit compromising pornographic images of themselves with children 12 years or younger.
Upon being granted membership, pedophiles had immediate access to graphic images and videos of adults molesting children 12 years old and under, often violently. To remain in 'good standing' participants had to frequently update their profiles with new images and videos of children as they raped them.
“The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the preeminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation but for the children they victimized, this was nothing short of a nightmare,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said in an August 3rd statement.
The indictments and arrests were conducted in three separate phases over the two-year span of the operation. Each of the 72 defendants are charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography and 50 of them are also charged with engaging in child pornography enterprise.
Of the 52 defendants arrested yesterday, 13 have pleaded guilty; while 20 of the 72 remain at large and are known only by their online identities.
Four of the 13 people who pleaded guilty have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 20 to 30 years in prison.
The travesty of these crimes is that many of the perpetrators will probably remain free because of the veil of anonymity the Internet provides. Additionally, though the sentences of 20 to 30 years may seem lengthy, they pale by comparison to the life sentences these men have meted out to their victims.
The physical, sociological and psychological damage perpetrated against these children will last a lifetime and will affect each member of our society tangentially or directly. Many of the victims have not been identified and because the geographic footprint of this criminal enterprise; it is likely that the number of children brutalized by this perverse consortium could run into the thousands.Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor: @ayannanahmias
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