I am joined on stage today by Julie Myers, Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Tony Warr, Acting Chief of the Toronto Police Services; and U.S. Attorneys Patrick Fitzgerald and Alex Acosta. We’re also joined today by law enforcement representatives from our international allies and State partners. Thank you all for being here and for your roles in this important case.
Over the past few months, undercover investigators infiltrated a worldwide Internet chat room that was being used to facilitate the trading of graphic images of child pornography – including live streaming video of adults sexually molesting children and infants.
As of today, 27 individuals in the United States, Canada, Australia, and England have been charged in connection to activity in a chat room called “Kiddypics & Kiddyvids.” The charges brought by the United States occurred in nine different U.S. Attorney districts and include possession, receipt, distribution, and manufacture of child pornography, as well as conspiracy and other offenses. As a result of this operation, seven victims of molestation have been identified – the youngest was less than 18 months old.
The chat room in this case was monitored by “hosts” who established rules for participation, some of which it appears were designed to hide their illegal activities from law enforcement.
Some participants of the chat room used minors to produce images of child pornography and then made those images – including live shows – available to other members through the Internet. For example, according to the indictment announced today in Chicago, in the last year a defendant who used the screen name “Acidburn” allegedly produced live streaming video of himself sexually molesting an infant.
The behavior in these chat rooms – and the images many of these defendants sent around the world through “peer-to-peer” file sharing programs and private instant messaging services – are the worst imaginable forms of child pornography.
This investigation is an example of how American law enforcement can and will work side-by-side with our international law enforcement partners to shut down these rings and protect young, vulnerable victims from the horrors of sexual abuse.
I should point out that this indictment does not mean that these defendants have been convicted of a crime. But we plan to prosecute them – and others involved in this vile chat room – to the fullest extent of the law.
The prosecution of cyber crimes – especially those that target children – is one of the highest priorities at the Justice Department. The Internet must be a safe place for all Americans.
A few weeks ago, I announced a major new initiative: Project Safe Childhood to prevent the exploitation of our kids over the Internet. With improved coordination between law enforcement at every level – similar to what we’ve seen in this case – we’ll be able to investigate and prosecute more sexual predators and child pornographers than ever before. Sadly, as evidenced by the details I’ve described today, there is clearly plenty of work left to be done.
I’d like to thank all of the dedicated investigators and prosecutors involved in this case – including those from nine U.S. Attorney offices across the Nation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, State and local law enforcement, and, of course, our international partners in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain.
We will continue to adapt our methods and strategies in law enforcement to keep up with rapidly changing technologies for criminal behavior. And, most important, we will not tolerate those who harm our children.