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International Child Porn Ring Uncovered

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:26 am
by stackdag


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - After James Freeman was vetted and approved for membership in what police describe as a highly sophisticated child porn network, he expressed his appreciation by posting two folders online: one labeled ``mild,'' the other ``wild.''

``All I can say is that they are worth the download,'' wrote Freeman, 47, known in the global porn ring as ``Mystikal,'' according to court documents. ``My thanks to you and all the others that together make this the greatest group of pedos ever to gather in one place.''

Freeman, of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., was one of 12 Americans indicted last week in a worldwide investigation that ultimately charged 22 people with participating in the porn ring - and intentionally blocking police from investigating it.

In all, more than 400,000 pictures, video files and other images showing children engaged in sexual behavior were produced, advertised, traded and distributed globally in the online pornography ring, according to U.S. and international authorities. The sting, which started in Australia, also netted accused pornographers in England, Canada and Germany.

Some victims were as young as five years old. Others were preyed upon for innocent characteristics such as wearing their hair in pigtails.

Authorities won't say how they eventually broke through several layers of encryption, background checks and other security measures the pornographers used to protect their online user group from being accessed. The porn ring was run like a business, FBI executive assistant director J. Stephen Tidwell said Tuesday, with the lewd images used as currency instead of cash.

``This is beyond a quantum exponential leap for us to see folks that have gone to this much trouble to produce this kind of volume of horrific exploitation of children,'' Tidwell said in an interview.

So far, authorities have identified and rescued 20 of the children who were exploited, he said, adding: ``But with 400,000 (images) we're going to be at this for years, trying to find the victims.''

Australian investigators first discovered the ring and infiltrated it undercover in January 2006, said Ross Barnett, detective chief superintendent with the Queensland Police Service. Those who gained access to the online forum could only after passing a series of what Tidwell called ``various benchmarks and bars to get over to get into their group.''

``From our perspective, it's definitely the largest and most sophisticated and disciplined group that we have ever seen operating in this environment,'' Barnett said.

A 35-count indictment unsealed Friday in U.S. District Court in Pensacola, Fla., details conversations among the 12 men accused of trading and advertising the pornography. Two other Americans were also arrested in connection with the ring but not included in the indictment.

The men were charged in 11 states: California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. They all used aliases, such as ``Box of Rocks,'' ``Crazy Horse,'' ``Lizzard'' and ``Pickleman.''

In one example cited in the indictment, 54-year-old Raymond Roy of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., posted videos of Thai children ``to give everyone something to do for an afternoon.''

``This one may offend here, so a word of caution, these girls are heavily drugged,'' Roy, known as ``Nimo,'' wrote on July 10, 2007, according to the court documents. ``Not much action to speak of, the girls are (sic) to (expletive deleted) up to move, or resist. Three girls, the first one being the youngest, around 8 or 9 yo.''

``Yo'' stands for ``years old.''

The 12 men were charged with engaging in a child exploitation enterprise; illegally posting notices seeking to receive, exchange and distribute child porn across state lines; and obstructing of justice. Several also were charged with producing the pornography - meaning they had contact with the children who were exploited, Tidwell said.

The investigation, which is continuing, is the latest product of the FBI's ``Innocent Images'' task force that stemmed from a 1993 child pornography case. The task force has arrested more than 9,400 suspects since 2004 and is made up of international investigators working in the United States from an FBI command center in suburban Maryland.

Noting the sophisticated process the porn ring used to bar police, Tidwell compared the growing number of child pornography crimes to that of cocaine dealers, terrorists and the Mafia.

``If they had good operational security, that's a bad thing for us,'' Tidwell said. ``When you've got that, you've got a real challenge for law enforcement.''

(This version CORRECTS that the indictment contained 35 counts, not 34.)

More info

PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2008 4:36 am
by stackdag


WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury in Pensacola, Fla. has returned a 35-count indictment against 12 individuals who engaged in a criminal enterprise involving the advertisement, transportation and shipment of child pornography over a two-year period, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Gregory R. Miller, and FBI Executive Assistant Director J. Stephen Tidwell announced today.

According to the indictment, the 12 men participated since August 2006 in a highly-sophisticated and well-organized scheme to proliferate child sex abuse images to the organization’s membership. Until the group was dismantled by law enforcement, members of the group utilized Internet newsgroups - or large file-sharing networks where text, software, pictures and videos can be traded and shared - to traffic in illegal images and videos depicting prepubescent children, including toddlers, engaged in various sexual and sadistic acts. The group utilized sophisticated encryption methods to avoid detection and traded over 400,000 images and videos of child sexual abuse before being dismantled. The charges were developed after law enforcement infiltrated the group.
The indictment charges the 12 defendants with numerous federal crimes, including engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, conspiracy, advertisement of child pornography, transportation of child pornography, receipt of child pornography, and obstruction of justice. Charged in the indictment are:

Michael Berger, 33, of Mechanicsville,Va.;
James Freeman, 47, of Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.;
Ruble Keys, 55, of Medford, Ore.;
Gary Lakey, 54, of Anderson, Ind.;
Marvin Lambert, 33, of Indianapolis, Ind.;
Neville McGarity, 40, of Medina, Texas;
John Mosman, 46, of Waterbury, Conn.;
Warren Mumpower, 63, of Spokane, Wash.;
Raymond Roy, 54, of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.;
Erik Wayerski, 46, of Round Rock, Texas;
Warren Weber, 56, of Boise, Idaho; and
Ronald White, 59, of Burlington, N.C.

If convicted of these offenses, each defendant faces a prison sentence of at least 20 years, up to a maximum of life imprisonment, in addition to applicable statutory fines.
Two additional defendants associated with this case were arrested on criminal complaints on February 29, 2008. They are Stepan Bondarenko, 38, of Philadelphia, Pa. and Daniel Castleman, 43, of Lubbock, Texas.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Goldberg of the Northern District of Florida and Trial Attorney LisaMarie Freitas of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Queensland, Australia Police Service, with the assistance of the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) Child Pornography Unit in Germany, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the United Kingdom, and the Toronto, Canada Police Department.