Two NZ boys victims of global porn ring

Two New Zealand boys are among 251 victims of a massive international online child pornography ring busted in the United States.

New Zealand police confirmed the two boys, aged 12 and 13, were among the victims of the members-only online network which had more than 27,000 subscribers.

Fourteen men had been arrested in the United States, but there had been no arrests here, a New Zealand police spokesman said.

No one in New Zealand would face charges over the child porn ring, which had links to victims in Australia, Britain, Canada and Belgium.

"The New Zealand Police received information from United States authorities that New Zealand children had been victimised by a US based online child exploitation group," Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael said.

"During our investigation police identified two young male victims in New Zealand, aged 12 and 13, that had been exploited and were able to take steps to ensure their safety," he said in a statement.

US authorities said it was one of the largest such operations ever uncovered, Agence France-Presse reported.

The website's victims - 243 boys and eight girls, lived in in five foreign countries and 39 US states, officials said.

Authorities said the victims, were, for the most part, boys between the ages of 10 and 17.

The organisation was "one of the largest known online child exploitation operations in history", Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson said.

Among the suspects taken into custody was Jonathan Johnson, 27, the administrator of the website, which operated out the southern US state of Louisiana, AFP reported.

If convicted, Johnson faced 20 years to life in prison, said Kenneth Allen Polite, US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

"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," Mr Polite said.

The illicit website operated on a hidden service board on the Tor network from about June 2012 until June 2013, when Johnson was arrested.

The Tor network is set up to conceal user's location, making it possible to maintain online anonymity.

Authorities said the website contained more than 2000 shared webcam-captured videos of mostly juvenile boys enticed by the website's operators to produce sexually explicit material.

Mr Michael said the investigation highlighted the fact that the internet allowed predators to exploit children around the world, even in the safety of their own homes.

"The high level of co-operation during Operation Roundtable demonstrates the willingness of international law enforcement agencies to combat online child exploitation," he said.

 

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