U.S., South Korea Bust Giant Child Porn Site by Following a Bitcoin Trail
17 Oct 2019

U.S. and Korean authorities say they broke up one of the world’s largest markets for child pornography, a crime that is proliferating at a furious pace with the rise of cryptocurrency and encrypted online content.

The bust was revealed Wednesday as the U.S. unsealed an indictment against Jong Woo Son, 23, who prosecutors say operated a Darknet market that accepted Bitcoin and distributed more than 1 million sexually explicit videos involving children. Son, a South Korean national, is serving 18 months in prison after being convicted there.

Since agents shuttered the site in March 2018, authorities have arrested 337 site users around the world. They were in countries including the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and in nearly two dozen U.S. states, according to U.S. authorities. The U.K. government said people in 38 countries were arrested.

The site, which encouraged users to upload videos, included hundreds of thousands of illicit images not previously seen by authorities. Authorities say they rescued at least 23 minor victims in the U.S., U.K. and Spain who were being actively abused by users of the site, which operated from June 2015 until March 2018.

“What we are here to discuss today, the sexual exploitation of children, is one of the worst forms of human evil imaginable,” Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said Wednesday as she announced the charges. She added, “Children around the world are safer because of the actions taken by U.S. and foreign law enforcement to prosecute this case and recover funds for victims.”

By David Voreacos, Bloomberg, 16 October 2019

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