Federal prosecutors announced that they had broken up a major online international child pornography ring that at its peak had more than 1,000 members trading millions of sexually explicit images. The investigation was kept secret for years in order to avoid tipping off suspects.
Investigators were able to infiltrate the ring after taking over the online profile of a member who was arrested in Alabama as part of a separate case. More than 50 people have been arrested in several states since the 2008 start of the investigation. Prosecutors said 35 ring members have been convicted of various child pornography distribution charges. Some of them have received sentences of up to 20 years in prison.
Besides Indiana and Louisiana, suspects came from California, Alaska, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Michigan, Virginia and Florida. The government is also working with police in several countries, including France, Germany and England, to investigate other suspects. Investigators also believe the group had members in Asia, Africa and South America.
The U.S. is working to extradite the group's alleged ringleader, Delwin Savigar, who is serving a 14-year prison term in England for sexually assaulting three underage girls. Savigar created and ran a password-protected website from which members could access collections of sexual images - some including as many as a million files - share their fantasies about having sex with children and give advice to each other about how to build their collections and avoid getting caught.
If you are under investigation or have been charged with possession of child pornography in either state or federal court contact criminal defense attorney Robert M. Bernstein for a free consultaion.