At a Justice Department news conference today, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano discussed the 20-month law enforcement investigation called Operation Delego, which targeted an international child pornography ring that officials say used an online bulletin board called Dreamboard to trade tens of thousands of child sexual abuse images and videos.
According to officials, many participants in the network, which had 600 members, produced images and videos of the sexual abuse of children under the age of 12, and then shared the images and videos with other Dreamboard club members.Â Attorney General Holder said that some of the children featured in the images and videos were just infants.
In many cases, the children being victimized were in obvious, and intentional, pain – even in distress and crying, just as the rules for one area of the bulletin board mandated, the attorney general said.
Napolitano said the amount of childÂ sexual abuse images and videosÂ traded by membersÂ in the network was massive, the equivalent to 16,000 DVDs. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who heads Justice’s criminal division, called the criminal enterprise “a living horror.”
Of the 72 charged in the United States, 43 have been arrested in this country and nine abroad. Another 20 are known to authorities only by their Internet names and remain at large.
According to authorities, the members used screen names and used proxy servers with Internet traffic routed through other computers to disguise their locations.Â In order to maintain their membership, members were required to continually upload images of children being sexually abused.Â Participants who molested children and created new images of child pornography were placed in a “Super VIP” category that gave them access to the entire quantity of child porn on the bulletin board, authorities said.
A “Super Hardcore” section of the bulletin board was limited to posts showing adults having violent sexual intercourse with “very young kids” subjected to physical and sexual abuse.