Hundreds of Members of a Darknet Child Porn Ring Arrested in China

Law enforcement in China just arrested hundreds of suspects involved in a darknet child-pornograhy ring, news outlets reported. Across the entire country, police officers raided and arrested suspects who accessed media containing the molestation of more than 30 under-aged girls.

The US Department of Homeland Security notified China’s law enforcement of a Chinese darknet child-pornography ring. In March, police arrested the primary suspect in the case. The 19-year-old, surnamed Sun, had three terabytes of pornography. Investigators, so far, reported that 400GB of the data was child-pornography.

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According to a police officer who spoke with the Jinghua Times, users accessed the videos 20,000 times or more. Police counted 30 different girls in the collections of uploaded media—some being abducted and others being raped.

Xinhua, the official who spoke with the Jinghua Times, said that Sun was one of the primary uploaders of content. Sun, A sophomore student at a Beijing university, would both buy child-pornography from outside sources and upload and distribute the content he bought or found. He often would trade his videos to foreign websites in exchange for videos that Sun had never seen in China.

Sun would then distribute or upload the media through various channels including instant-messaging groups and cloud drives, as well as an unnamed darknet site. Xinhua said some of the videos were produced in China, featuring young Chinese girls. The locations were determined by analyzing the language and surroundings the videos displayed.

“Seeing so many children forced into such a nightmare at such a young age makes every one of our police officers involved in the case extremely angry and sad,” said Zhang Min, who was in charge of the case.

According to South China Morning Post, the active group members would ask other members to film themselves molesting children. The videos were to be uploaded and distributed, similar to the way PlayPen operated, albeit with less structure. Those who participated would sexually violate children who lived nearby—often neighbors or children near to the pedophile’s workplace.

Sun, the 19-year-old primary suspect, received a prison sentence of 18 months for the distribution of child pornography. The remaining suspects are still under investigation, Xinhua reported.

Some countries are handling darknet-related child-pornography in way similar to that of Germany’s DNM firearm crackdown. In late August, Taiwan officials arrested 45 in a CP bust. Many countries, including China and Taiwan, involved cooperation with foreign countries. In Taiwan:

The crackdown came after ECPAT Taiwan last year tipped off US authorities about two pornographic websites set up in the United States.

The websites have carried child pornography since 2007, with each attracting at least one million paid members, said Lee Li-feng, secretary-general of ECPAT Taiwan.

And we are still seeing members of The Love Zone getting arrested worldwide. Australia led the investigation but worked, in part, with agencies worldwide. Notably, Australia hacked hundreds of computers in the US without permission from US authorities. However, during “Operation Pacifier,” the FBI did something very similar to computers in Australia.

Regardless of ongoing legal battles about whether or not the hacks were legal, there should be no doubt that countries take child pornography seriously. Boundaries and borders have been no issue, as demonstrated by the aforementioned hacks. And darknet-related content is not outside law enforcement’s scope.

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