337 ar­rested in global child porn probe

The Korea Times - - WORLD -

WASHINGTON (AFP) — In­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties an­nounced Wed­nes­day that a global in­ves­ti­ga­tion into child pornog­ra­phy sold for bit­coin on the un­der­ground in­ter­net had reaped 337 ar­rests and the shut­down of the dark web’s most no­to­ri­ous pe­dophile site.

Au­thor­i­ties from the United States, Bri­tain, South Korea and other coun­tries said they had res­cued at least 23 mi­nor victims of sex­ual ex­ploita­tion who were of­ten video-recorded by abusers who then sold the videos on the now-shut­tered “Wel­come to Video” site on the darknet.

The web­site sold the videos to users for bit­coin, which makes it ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to track the buyer.

From June 2015, when “Wel­come to Video” started up, to March 2018, the web­site re­ceived at least 420 bit­coin vir­tual currency — around $370,000 at the time of the pay­ments — in at least 7,300 trans­ac­tions, the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment said in an in­dict­ment.

The server, which had about 250,000 videos, was seized by U.S., Bri­tish and South Ko­rean po­lice on March 5, 2018 and the oper­a­tor, 23-year-old Son Jong­woo was ar­rested and jailed in Korea.

Since then hun­dreds of users from 12 coun­tries have been tracked down and ar­rested.

On Wed­nes­day, U.S. au­thor­i­ties un­sealed a U.S. in­dict­ment of Son as well as an­nounc­ing the seizure of vir­tual currency ac­counts of 24 peo­ple in five coun­tries that had been “used to fund the web­site and pro­mote the ex­ploita­tion of chil­dren.”

The col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween global law en­force­ment agen­cies was sparked by the Bri­tish in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a Bri­tish sci­en­tist for child sex of­fenses, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tain’s Na­tional Crime Agency.

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