Hundreds Charged in Worldwide Takedown of Largest Darknet Child Pornography Website
Jong Woo Son, a South Korean national, was indicted by a federal grand jury this week for his involvement with Welcome To Video, the largest child sexual exploitation market by volume of content. Son is the international actor among hundreds of domestic perpetrators indicted on charges relating to the website’s use.
Welcome To Video was an online platform, funded by Bitcoin, which exclusively advertised child sexual exploitation videos available for download by members of the site. The website contained over 250,000 unique videos, and 45 percent of the videos currently being analyzed by law enforcement contained new images not known to previously exist.
The website itself boasted over one million downloads of videos by users. According to the Department of Justice release, each user received a unique bitcoin address when the user created an account. Analysis of the server found that the website had more than one million bitcoin addresses, indicating that the page had at least one million users.
The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division (IRS-CID) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) shared data from the seized server with law enforcement around the world to assist in identifying and prosecuting customers of the site. Their joint efforts have resulted in leads sent to 38 countries and yielded arrests of 337 individuals around the world.
The operation has resulted in searches of residences and businesses of approximately 92 individuals in the United States. As the DOJ further explained, the operation is responsible for the rescue of at least 23 minor victims residing in the United States, Spain, and the United Kingdom who were being actively abused by the users of the site.
The 337 site users facing criminal charges reside in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State, and Washington, D.C. as well as the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Brazil, and Australia.
“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 largescale 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.”
Posted in The Takedown