Federal authorities announced Tuesday they dismantled an international child pornography ring that allowed its 35 male members to trade thousands of images and videos of boys in sexually explicit situations through a website.
The announcement was made in the wake of Monday's guilty plea by a Georgia man to transporting child pornography using a secret Internet bulletin board called "Lost Boy." That website operated from September 2007 to January 2009, when authorities shut it down and began investigating the men who operated it, officials said.
US smashes global child porn ring
US authorities say they have broken up an international online child pornography ring using a bulletin board called Lost Boy and charged 20 people in five countries.
Sixteen of the suspects are in the US, while the others are in France, Germany, Belgium and New Zealand, according to US justice authorities including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The various defendants used the names "HarryPotter," "Bottles&Cans," "Undy12" and "WoodenDoll" to post explicit pictures on the Texas-based bulletin board.
Authorities said the men were initiated into the password-protected site by posting graphic photos of child pornography and had to continue posting pictures to maintain access.
"This network was reserved for your most serious traders of child pornography and boy lovers," said U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr.
Birotte said one of the most disturbing items investigators found was a "handbook project," a forum used to groom adult men interested in pursuing boys. Another disturbing find included a picture of a 9-year-old boy with Down syndrome being abused.