Local News

Police Bust Internet Child Pornography Ring

Posted September 1, 1998

— Customs agents cracked down on a web of disgust Wednesday. They have pulled the plug on accused pedophiles smuggling disturbing pictures of children online.

Hundreds of suspects in the U.S. and across the globe were arrested for a secret worldwide pornography ring.

The search for suspects also led to Chapel Hill. Tuesday night, U.S. Customs agents move into the area along with S.B.I. agents and Chapel Hill police.

They raided one residence searching for and seizing evidence they believe is linked to the ring. It is a child porn ring that could stretch from Chapel Hill across the World.

The pornographic pictures are gut-wrenching, like children as young as 18-months-old in sexual poses. Many of the pictures were produced by the Wonderland Club.

"The images depict everything from sexual abuse to the actual rape of children," U.S. Customs Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. "One of the requirements for membership is a stockpile of several thousand images of graphic child pornography."

At 10 p.m. Tuesday night around the World in 14 countries, federal agents raided homes and apartments seizing computers, software and pornographic pictures.

"We were looking for evidence of possession and trafficking of child pornography images both paper and digital," U.S. Customs Agent Jeffery Jordan said.

Agent Jordan said that no arrest have been made in the Triangle, but he said agents are working hard to find who is behind the ring before more children get hurt.

"There have instances where these rings engaged in child molestation, and that is why we act on these things because they are so egregious in nature," Agent Jordan said.

In the U.S. there could be as many as 32 connections to the ring including the one in Chapel Hill. Only four arrest were made in the U.S. so far. Worldwide, out of 200 searches and 200 suspects, only 40 arrest were made Tuesday night.

Many of the people arrested were scientists and school teachers. The violation is a felony, and suspects could receive ten years in prison.

Parents can take steps to protect their children. Experts suggest talking to them about the danger of the internet, and to be honest about it. They also suggest buying software packages that limit internet access.

Parents can also move computer equipment out of the bedroom, and into common places like the living room.

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