US breaks infant porn ring

2012-06-08 10:07
Jail bars. (File photo, AP)

Jail bars. (File photo, AP)

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Indianapolis - Investigators have busted a child pornography ring spread across the US and Europe that produced and distributed sexually explicit images of babies and toddlers online, federal prosecutors said on Thursday.

Seven US men have been convicted and sentenced on various charges in the case, including three who were sentenced on Wednesday, the US attorney's office said. Two more who pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing.

"This operation uncovered a dangerous and depraved group of criminals who were devoted to trading sexually explicit images of children under the age of five," Assistant US Attorney General Larry Breuer said in a statement.

More than 20 suspects have been captured in nine states, and authorities are investigating others in the US, as well as Sweden, Serbia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

First Assistant US Attorney Josh Minkler said more than two dozen children were abused in the production of the pornography.

Some of the suspects had legal custody of their victims, and those children have been removed, prosecutors said.

Babysitting

The "most prolific producer of child pornography" in the group was 26-year-old David Bostic, Assistant US Attorney Brant Cook said.

Bostic persuaded parents to allow him to babysit and abused the children without their knowledge, Assistant US Attorney Steve DeBrota said.

He was arrested in November 2010 after federal, state and local investigators raided his home in Indiana, uncovering hundreds of pictures and videos on his computer of children engaged in sexual acts, including four girls aged from 2 months to 3 years and one 4-year-old boy who had been entrusted to his care.

He was convicted on 65 counts and sentenced to 315 years in prison.

Further investigation of Bostic's computer led investigators to others in the group. DeBrota said the members met though a website and traded videos and still images by e-mail.

"That ability to find a like-minded individual online that you couldn't find in the real world is a severe danger that comes with the internet," DeBrota said.

DeBrota told reporters that one suspect had an ultrasound image of an unborn baby whom the prosecutor characterised as a potential future victim. He declined to provide more details, citing the ongoing investigation.

"We have examples of offenders who were planning on having children for the purpose of having a class of victims," DeBrota said.

- SAPA

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