14 charged in online child exploitation network - WDRB 41 Louisville News

14 charged in online child exploitation network

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fourteen men were charged with operating an online child exploitation network that investigators said preyed upon hundreds of boys across the United States and overseas, authorities announced Tuesday.

A news release from the Department of Homeland Security called it one of the largest online child exploitation investigations in its history.

Three of the minor victims have been identified as being from the Louisville area; additional details are about those victims were not immediately available

Law enforcement officials said the arrests were part of a worrisome trend in which children are being enticed into posting sexually explicit images of themselves. Those images are then broadly shared online. In this case, authorities said users of an underground network posed online as girls to coerce boys into sharing with them child pornography images.

The website's primary administrator, Jonathan Johnson, 27, of Abita Springs, La., has been charged with operating a child exploitation enterprise. He admitted to creating multiple fake female personas on popular social networks to target and sexually exploit children and to coaching other child predators in his inner circle to do the same. Jonathan Johnson has been in federal custody since his arrest June 13, 2013, and faces 20 years to life in prison. 

"Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child exploitation investigation," said ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale.  "Our agency is seeing a growing trend where children are being enticed, tricked and coerced online by adults to produce sexually explicit material of themselves. While we will continue to prioritize the arrest of child predators, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem: education is the key to prevention."

The underground website was a hidden service board on the Tor network and operated from about June 2012 until June 2013, at which time the site contained more than 2,000 videos and had more than 27,000 members. The website shared webcam-captured videos of mostly juvenile boys enticed by the operators of the site to produce sexually explicit material. Tor enables online anonymity, directing Internet traffic through a volunteer network consisting of thousands of relays to conceal a user's location. 

The investigation was dubbed 'Operation Round Table' and began with the arrest of Jonathan Johnson by USPIS and HSI. Further computer forensic analysis by HSI revealed Jonathan Johnson to be the creator and administrator of the underground website. Ten additional individuals have been arrested and charged in the Eastern District of Louisiana as the primary operators, contributors and producers of material for the child exploitation enterprise:

  • Daniel Nolan Devor, 39, of Brunswick, Ga., charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography, distribution of child pornography and receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors
  • John C. Foster, 44 of Tipp City, Ohio, charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and receipt of materials involving the sexual exploitation of minors
  • Aung Gaw aka Michael Gaw, 25, of Fremont, Calif.,  charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Vittorio Francesco Gonzalez-Castillo, 26, of Tucson, Ariz., charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography
  • Sean Jabbar, 32, of Minneapolis, Minn.,  charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Christopher Jamieson, 30, of Douglassville, Ga., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Andrew Korpal, 29, of Granger, Ind., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Nicholas Saine, 27, of Seattle, Wash., charged with receipt of child pornography
  • Christopher Schwab, 25 of New Orleans, charged with production of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and receipt of child pornography
  • Stanley Zdon, III, 27, of Tuckerton, N.J., charged with conspiracy to produce child pornography

Roy Naim, 30, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was charged in the Eastern District of New York with conspiracy to produce child pornography, attempted sexual exploitation of a child, receipt of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. Minh Vi Thong, 30, of Denver, Colo., was charged in the District of Colorado with production of child pornography, distribution of child pornography, and possession of child pornography. Michael Eales, 24, of Westby, Wis., was charged in the Western District of Wisconsin with production of child pornography. He was sentenced Oct. 29, 2013, to serve two concurrent 30-year terms in federal prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for manufacturing child pornography. 

More than 300 investigations have been opened into potential subscribers of the website: 150 in the United States and 150 overseas. Investigators anticipate ongoing arrests and additional identification of victims as they continue to examine and analyze the more than 40 terabytes of data seized.  

The prosecution of this case in the Eastern District of Louisiana is being handled by Fraud Unit Chief and Project Safe Childhood Coordinator, Assistant U. S. Attorney Brian M. Klebba.

Substantial assistance in this ongoing case is being provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the U.S. Department of Justice's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  

Operation Round Table was conducted as part of HSI's Operation Predator to identify and rescue victims of online sexual exploitation and to arrest their abusers as well as others who own, trade and produce images of child pornography.

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