BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A Huntsville man pled guilty today to possession of a large collection of child pornography, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Assistant Special Agent in Charge James G. Hernandez.
A one-count information filed in U.S. District Court charges Ryan Thomas Carver, 29, with possession of child pornography, including images of prepubescent children, bondage, and bestiality. According to the plea agreement, an investigation by HSI recovered records showing that Carver paid Bitcoin, a virtual currency, and used the dark web to access a website used for the distribution of child pornography. Based on this information, federal investigators executed a federal search warrant at the Carver’s home in Huntsville, Alabama on March 5, 2018. Analysis of the items found in Carver’s possession at the time discovered a total of 180 identified series of child pornography meeting the federal definition, including 3,102 identified photos of child pornography, 162 identified videos of child pornography, and 45 identified victims.
He is scheduled for sentencing on March 13, 2020.
“Criminals who victimize our children through digital pixels, videos, or photos should expect a visit from federal law enforcement,” Town said. “It’s not a question of if, but when. And when we find you we will prosecute you and you will go to federal prison.”
“HSI and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting those among us that are the most vulnerable,” said James Hernandez, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for Alabama. “HSI uses all of the tools and technology available to ensure that criminals find no refuge in the Darknet.”
The investigation that ensnared Carver was part of an international investigation into Welcome To Video, the largest child sexual exploitation Darknet marketplace by volume of content, that authorities seized in March 2018 in an operation spanning three continents. Authorities seized approximately eight terabytes of child sexual exploitation videos, one of the largest seizures of its kind. The authorities have shared data about the site’s users with law enforcement agencies throughout the world.
The Darknet site had users across the United States and throughout the world, including at least 53 individuals in the United States. According to a press release by the Department of Justice, the site provided child sexual exploitation videos to users in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington State and Washington, D.C., as well as the United Kingdom, South Korea, Germany, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Czech Republic, Canada, Ireland, Spain, Brazil, and Australia who have now been arrested and charged.
The maximum penalty for possession of child pornography is 20 years of imprisonment, a fine of $250,000, or both.
HSI investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Keim is prosecuting, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.