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Global child pornography and abuse ring busted: Police arrest over 300 paedophiles in 38 countries

The US Justice Department's officials stated yesterday that tracking down 'Welcome to Video', 'Silk Road' and other such sites that sell porn, paedophilia, prostitution and drugs in the dark web has been "Testing the limits of the FBI's technological capabilities".

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

In a massive international operation carried out by law enforcement officials of USA, UK, Germany and South Korea, a dark web platform that allowed paedophiles around the world to upload sickening child abuse videos and made them available to ‘customers’ for cash has been busted.

As per reports, The USA’s Department of Justice yesterday revealed in a press conference that a website named ‘Welcome to Video’, a Bitcoin-based dark web platform that catered to paedophiles worldwide has been taken down and its administrator, a South Koran national named Jong-Woo Son has been arrested.

The Darknet site that was taken down by law enforcement agencies, image made available by the US Department of Justice, via Reuters

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As per reports, the ‘Welcome to Video’ site was tracked and was under investigation since March 2018. Working extensively with multiple law enforcement agencies worldwide, investigators have been unmasking the identities of the ‘anonymous users’ and uploaders by tracking server data for each transaction.

As per reports, over 250,000 videos were found on the website under search terms such as “preteen hardcore,” “paedophile” and references to sex involving children as young as 2 and 4 years old.

The videos were stored in a South Korean server by the current administrator Jong-Woo Son and were being made available to users via a secret bitcoin-based network.

The website was first discovered by Britain’s National Crime Agency during its investigation into one of the UK’s most prolific paedophiles, Dr Matthew Falder, who is serving 25 years in prison for 137 offences linked to the sexual abuse of children.

The arrest of Falder, a geophysicist from an affluent British family, has led to the arrest of Kyle Fox, who had filmed his sexual attacks on a five-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. Fox appeared on footage on the ‘Welcome to Video’ site, raping a young girl.

Jong-Woo Son is already in South Korean Prison. He has been charged by the US department of justice too. Investigators have found that between June 2015 to March 2018, Welcome to Video earned more than 370,000 USD by over 7000 Bitcoin transactions.

Acting in coordination as the names and identities of the uploaders and ‘end-users’ were revealed, police in 38 countries including the UK, Ireland, USA, South Korea, Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic and Canada have raided and arrested the paedophiles.

337 paedophiles have been arrested so far. 92 of them are from the USA. 34 of them are already charged and facing sentences. The US department of justice has also made their names public.

In the UK, the USA and Spain, 23 children in total have been rescued from the clutches of active abusers.

As per the US DOJ, the Welcome to Video site operated as a hidden site accessed via the Tor web browser that hides the location of the websites and their viewers. Child abusers who posted videos of the abuse could earn ‘loyalty points’. Points were also awarded to users who referred the site to new users. Points could also be purchased via Bitcoin, allowing nearly anonymous payments.

The US Justice Department’s officials stated yesterday that tracking down ‘Welcome to Video’, ‘Silk Road’ and other such sites that sell porn, paedophilia, prostitution and drugs in the dark web has been “Testing the limits of the FBI’s technological capabilities”.

Several of the child sex offenders who were caught are yet to be jailed.

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