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POP Center Problems Child Pornography on the Internet Appendix C

Appendix C: Examples of Coordinated Law Enforcement Operations previous page next page

A number of major law enforcement operations demonstrate the need for interagency and international cooperation. A summary of major operations is shown in the table below.

Table 4. Summaries of major, coordinated law enforcement operations.
Operation Avalanche/Ore [96]
The ProblemThe ResponseThe Outcome
Landslide Productions was a child pornography company operating out of Fort Worth, Texas. Landslide had a complex network of some 5,700 websites worldwide (especially in Russia and Indonesia) that stored child pornography images. The operation in Fort Worth acted as a gateway into the network. Online customers provided credit card details to obtain network access. Landslide scrambled these credit card numbers to protect customers' identities. There were more than 390,000 subscribers from 60 countries, generating a monthly turnover of up to $1.4 million.The investigation began in 1999 when the U.S. Postal Inspection Service discovered that Landslide's customers were sending monthly subscription fees to a post office box or paying them through the Internet. A joint investigation between the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), comprising more than 45 officers, was conducted over two years (Operation Avalanche). Officers cracked the code that scrambled the credit card numbers and then tracked down the card owners. Landslide's bank accounts were seized and 160 search warrants were executed that recovered large quantities of child pornography. The investigation was expanded to include the U.K. police (Operation Ore).To date, 120 arrests have been made in the U.S., including the two principal operators who were given life and 14-year sentences respectively in 2001. In the U.K. some 7,000 customers were identified, 1,300 people arrested, and 40 children taken into protective custody. Despite closing down Landslide Productions, there has been criticism that relatively few offenders have been successfully prosecuted.
Operation Cathedral [97]
The ProblemThe ResponseThe Outcome
The Wonderland Club was an exclusive online pedophile ring in which members reportedly had to produce 10,000 child pornography images for membership. At least 180 individuals from at least 33 countries had met this criterion, and seven members between them had contributed 750,000 images.In 1996, two U.S. offenders charged with online child pornography offenses (the Orchid Club) cooperated with police and provided information about a British offender. Evidence from that offender's computer hard drive led to the discovery of the Wonderland Club. The operation, conducted between 1998 and 2001, involved U.S. and British police coordinating through Interpol. Although agents were unable to gain undercover entry into the club, they were able to monitor transactions and gather evidence from the outside. Eventually, 35 members were identified. Police forces in 12 countries carried out more than 100 simultaneous raids on suspects.The Wonderland Club was destroyed, and there were 107 arrests around the world, 14 of which were in the United States.
Operation Candyman [98]
The ProblemThe ResponseThe Outcome
Candyman, was an open e-group maintained by Yahoo that was involved in exchanging child pornography. It had 7,000 members, 4,600 of which were in the United States and the remaining 2,400 lived around the world.Undercover FBI agents identified and infiltrated the e-group in a year-long undercover operation ending in 2002. The task force comprised 56 FBI field officers. A court order was obtained to compel Yahoo to provide the unique e-mail addresses of all members, and subpoenas were issued to all ISPs to provide the addresses of U.S. users.The FBI was able to obtain 1,400 addresses, from which 707 suspects were identified, 266 searches carried out, and 89 arrests made to date. Those arrested include a school bus driver, a teacher's aide, law enforcement personnel, and clergy members.
Operation Pin [99]
The ProblemThe ResponseThe Outcome
The operation is directed at the general proliferation of child pornography websites and the number of people accessing these sites. In particular it is aimed at casual or first-time offenders.The operation was started in 2003 by West Midlands (U.K.) police and expanded to include the FBI, the Australian Federal Police, the Royal Canadian Mounties, and Interpol. Far from being a covert operation, it was officially launched with media releases by the relevant police forces. It is a classic honey trap operation. A website purporting to contain child pornography was set up. Visitors to the site were required to go through a series of web pages, which appeared to be identical to real web porn sites, searching for the image they wanted. At each point it was reinforced that they were in a child pornography site, and they were given the option to exit. When they did try to access an image they were told they had committed a crime. They were tracked down via their credit card details, which they were required to provide to login.This crime prevention operation has resulted in numerous arrests; however, precise numbers are not available. Its main purpose is to make searchers of child pornography on the Internet uncertain that they can do so anonymously. Details of the sting operation were widely publicized on child pornography sites, contributing to the deterrent effect.

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