WASHINGTON, D.C. (WMBF) – A Conway man is one of hundreds of people across the world who are being charged in connection to the largest darknet child pornography website.
Authorities arrested and charged Laine Clark Jr., 27, for sexual possession of child pornography.
According to an indictment that was unsealed on Wednesday, Joo Woo Son, a 23-year-old South Korean national operated Welcome To Video, the largest child sexual exploitation market.
On March 5, 2018, authorities with agencies from across the world arrested Son and seized the server that he used to operate a Darknet market that advertised child sexual exploitation videos that were available for members of the site to download, the indictment states.
Authorities said they seized eight terabytes of child sexual exploitation videos, which is the largest seizure of its kind. To put that into perspective, one terabyte can hold about 1,000 hours worth of videos. The images, which are still being analyzed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, contained more than 250,000 unique videos.
“Darknet sites that profit from the sexual exploitation of children are among the most vile and reprehensible forms of criminal behavior,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This Administration will not allow child predators to use lawless online spaces as a shield.”
The indictment states that the Welcome to Video darknet site offered the videos for sale using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
“Through the sophisticated tracing of bitcoin transactions, IRS-CI special agents were able to determine the location of the Darknet server, identify the administrator of the website and ultimately track down the website server’s physical location in South Korea,” said IRS-CI Chief Don Fort. “This large-scale criminal enterprise that endangered the safety of children around the world is no more. Regardless of the illicit scheme, and whether the proceeds are virtual or tangible, we will continue to work with our federal and international partners to track down these disgusting organizations and bring them to justice.”
The U.S Department of Justice said the Darknet website was the first of its kind to monetize child exploitation videos using bitcoin. Officials also said there were one million downloads of child exploitation videos from the site.
The agencies have shared data from the server with authorities from around the world in an attempt to find and prosecute customers of the website. The investigation has led to the arrest of 337 people around the world, with 92 of those individuals being in the United States.
The Department of Justice said the operation also helped to rescue 23 minor victims in the United States, Spain and United Kingdom, who were being abused by users of the site.