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Federal crackdown results in 72 charged in online child porn ring

Seventy-two people have been charged with sex crimes in a federal crackdown on an online child pornography ring. The Justice Department has arrested 52 people in the U.S. and abroad in this investigation. U.S. authorities are still looking for 20 people who have been charged and remain at large. These people have not been identified beyond online pseudonyms. Thirteen of the people who have been arrested so far have pleaded guilty to the sex crimes.

The online child porn ring operated as an online bulletin board where members posted child pornography that they produced through recording their sex crimes against children. The bulletin board was known as Dreamboard and had a sophisticated system for only allowing trusted members who produced child pornography access to the shared materials.

The crackdown was a joint effort between Homeland Security and the Justice Department. According to the Los Angeles Times, the agencies targeted 500 suspected participants in 13 countries on five continents. The database developed through the members-only online ring was huge. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says that 1 million images of child porn were recovered in the U.S. through the crackdown. The material on the online bulletin board is equal to 16,000 DVDs made of child porn content.

The federal agencies announced that the crackdown should be a warning to people who produce child pornography and post it online, thinking that they can remain anonymous through technological know-how. The federal agencies said that even though Dreamboard was difficult to access, they will find everyone involved.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "72 charged in online child pornography ring," Andrew Seidman, Aug. 3, 2011

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