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Feds Shut Down "Facebook of Child Porn," International Social Networking Porn Ring

(CBS/AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (CBS/AP) U.S. authorities say they have broken up an international  child porn ring that revolved around a "social networking site" that at one point had more than 1,000 members trading explicit images online.

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday, May 26 that more than 50 people had been arrested and at least 35 have been convicted of porn distribution charges since the start of the investigation in 2008.

Authorities said they are also seeking the extradition of several suspects from overseas, including the alleged ringleader, Delwyn Savigar, who is serving a 14-year prison term in England for sexually assaulting three underage girls.

Savigar created and ran a password-protected website from which members could access collections of sexual images - some including as many as a million files - share their fantasies about having sex with children, and give advice to each other about how to build their collections and avoid getting caught, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D. DeBrota said.

To join the group, a person had to be sponsored by a member and voted on by other members, DeBrota said.

"This is the largest crimes against children case brought anywhere by anyone," DeBrota said.

According to DeBrota, the group did not focus on producing photographs, although several members were found to have been personally sexually abusing children, sometimes producing images of the abuse.

Immigration and postal agencies also took part in the investigation, along with state and local police.

Investigators said the group had about 1,000 members at its peak but had culled its membership to about 500 when U.S. officials took down the website in 2008.  DeBrota said prosecutors went after high-ranking members or those who had records of abusing children.

  • Edecio Martinez

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