Here is one of many articles I've read today about the news that a major child porn ring based out of the US has been dismantled http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-26639092
Officials in the US have dismantled a huge international online child pornography ring - one of the largest such operations ever uncovered, American authorities say.
They say that 14 men running a secret, members-only child porn website have been arrested.
About 250 children - mostly boys from the US - appeared on the site.
The website had more than 27,000 subscribers, many of whom have been charged in individual cases.
"Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child exploitation investigation," Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale told Reuters news agency.
Ice worked with Homeland Security officials and other agencies to break up the ring, which ran a website to share videos of boys enticed from social networks into providing sexually explicit material - sometimes by men posing as women.
Ages of the children ranged in age from three to 17 years, officials said, and came from 39 US states. Twenty-three of the 251 victims were identified in Britain, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Belgium.
Among the suspects arrested was Jonathan Johnson, 27, the alleged administrator of the child porn website, which operated out of the southern US state of Louisiana.
If convicted, he faces 20 years to life in prison, officials say.
"These indictments represent a strong co-ordinated strike... Against child pornography and those who allegedly seek to harm our most vulnerable citizens, our young children," Louisiana Eastern District Attorney Kenneth Allen Polite told the AFP news agency.
Police say that the illegal website operated on a hidden service board on the Tor network from about June 2012 until June 2013, when Mr Johnson was arrested.
The Tor network is set up to conceal a user's location, allowing him or her to maintain online anonymity.
But the porn ring was broken when an item was sent through the US Postal Service to a child, Ice Cyber Crime Centre Programme Manager James Kilpatrick told Reuters. That development led the authorities to Mr Johnson.
The 14 men arrested have been charged with conspiracy to operate a child exploitation enterprise.
At the time it was dismantled, the illegal website contained more than 2,000 shared webcam-captured videos of mostly juvenile boys, officials say.
Ice officials warn that a growing number of children are being enticed into sharing sexually explicit material online.
"We cannot arrest our way out of this problem: education is the key to prevention," Mr Ragsdale said.
Today's news has strongly resonated with me because my own sexual abuse followed this pattern:
- It started when I was 13 and went on until I was 17
- I was abused online by dozens of men in the US
- Images and videos of me were made and collected by my countless abusers
- Like some of the victims, I was in Canada
Even though my abuse occured before the time frame that this ring operated, I feel quite relieved and over-joyed as if justice for me personally was being carried out. Other victims who were exactly like me have been identified and their pattern of abuse is making headlines around the world!! People are discussing it!!
This has also been an unbelievable announcement because just a half hour before I found out about this story, I had given an hour long presentation to my colleagues at work during a Lunch and Learn on childhood sexual abuse, resources for adult survivors, and on an amazing child sex abuse investigation and support site that has helped me and where I now volunteer, called The Gatehouse
. I got my colleagues talking about it!!
Now, what I am hoping for is that the victims (or rther survivors) of this crime network will receive the support and resources they need to undo the trauma from this abuse and rebuild their lives. I know for myself, my adolescent sexuality was expressed purely through my online sexual exploitation and part of my recovery has been allowing myself to start from scratch a rebuild a healthy introduction to adult sexuality. I also dealt with PTSD after keeping the legacy of my abuse repressed from my conscious thoughts while still falling into abusive patterns of letting men exploit me sexually. I have come a long way in my recovery and now I am making a wish that the same can be said by these survivors as they become thrivers.