DALLAS The Department of Homeland Security announced a major child pornography bust on Tuesday morning. The department says it involves the largest number of victims every identified and contacted by law enforcement as a part of a single investigation.
Dubbed Operation Round Table, the scope of the investigation is massive. After a two-year investigation, 14 men are behind bars, arrested and charged as part of a conspiracy to run a hidden child porn website.
Officials uncovered 251 victims across the globe 15 of them in North Texas. Law enforcement officials said in many cases, the victims did not know their photos were being shared.
Let me be clear all were children under the age of 17, and some were under three years old, said Special Agent David M. Marwell of Homeland Security Investigations.
The underground website ran on a special type of secret network, what's often called the deep web. In a year's time, the site contained more than 200 videos and hosted more than 27,000 members.
Investigators allege 27-year-old Jonathan Johnson of Abita Springs, Louisiana was the head administrator.
Many of the victims in this case did not even realize they were, in fact, victims, Marwell said at Tuesday morning's media briefing.
Investigators said Johnson admitted to creating fake female personas to entice mostly young men.
The perpetrators of this child exploitation enterprise sought out young boys to entice to produce child pornography of themselves, Marwell said.
Johnson is now facing 20 years to life in federal custody.
While investigators have 14 men off the streets, they need your help finding another.
Homeland Security investigators say they have information about an unknown suspect who sexually exploited a baby. They believe he lived in North Texas in April 2013, and hope with your help they can find him. Call 866-347-2423 if you have any information, or use the confidential Homeland Security online tip form.