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'Eye-Popping and Sickening': Massive Child Porn Site Busted

337 users arrested in 38 countries, founder is already in prison
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2019 4:05 PM CDT
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / LagartoFilm)

(Newser) – A massive child porn site was shut down last year in a bust by US and Korean authorities first revealed Wednesday. Authorities say the Darknet market "Welcome to Video" contained more than 250,000 unique videos, 45% of which contained images previously unknown to authorities, and was run by Jong Woo Son. "The scale of this crime is eye-popping and sickening," says one official. The US on Wednesday unsealed an indictment against Son, a 23-year-old South Korean national who is already serving 18 months in prison in South Korea for a conviction related to child porn. The site accepted bitcoin, and Bloomberg notes that such child porn markets are "proliferating at a furious pace with the rise of cryptocurrency and encrypted online content." In 2014, 1.1 million incidents of child pornography were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; by last year, the number was 18.4 million.

"Welcome to Video," which operated on the Tor network as a "hidden service," was the world's biggest market for child porn, per NBC News. Authorities say it distributed more than a million videos between its launch in June 2015 and the date agents shut it down in March 2018; Reuters reports it collected at least $370,000 worth of bitcoin. Since then, 337 users of the site have been arrested in a reported 38 countries, and at least 23 minor victims who were being abused by site users have been rescued. In their announcement of the bust, authorities warned that child sex offenders are organizing communities like this that "brazenly promote victimizing children and even infants, educate members about how to perpetrate abuse without getting caught, encourage members to document their abuse, and distribute those videos and pictures to groups of predators." (Does YouTube have a "pedophilia wormhole"?)

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