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DHS: La. child porn ring biggest ever investigated

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Posted: Mar 18, 2014 11:33 AM by Russell Jones
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: DHS, ICE, homeland security, child porn ring, jonathan johnson, darknet, onion routing, TOR, child exploitation

WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday that the recent dismantling of a child porn ring operated out of Louisiana is one of the largest child exploitation investigations their office has ever undertaken.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said during their investigation authorities identified 259 minor victims in 39 states and five foreign countries, including the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Belgium.

"Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child exploitation investigation," said Daniel Ragsdale, deputy director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. "Our agency is seeing a growing trend where children are being enticed, tricked and coerced online by adults to produce sexually explicit material of themselves. While we will continue to prioritize the arrest of child predators, we cannot arrest our way out of this problem: education is the key to prevention."

Investigators said the ring was administrated by Jonathan Johnson, 27, of Abita Springs, and operated by 14 other men on the Darknet's Onion Router, also known as Tor. The network bounces users through multiple layers of encryption and volunteer servers in other countries to avoid detection.

Investigators said Johnson admitted he created several fake female personas on social networks to target and exploit children, while also coaching sexual predators to do the same. Federal authorities said Johnson also posted tips on his site about how sexual predators could avoid detection by law enforcement.

Johnson faces federal charges of operating a child exploitation enterprise. He's been in federal detention since his arrest in June 2013 and faces 20 years to life in prison if convicted.

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