Worldwide Web Of Sex Fiends
IT all began eight months ago in
the French city of Lyon - the headquarters of Interpol.
United States investigators revealed to stunned Australian Federal
Police the fruits of their investigation
into a lucrative Internet child pornography racket run from the former
Soviet republic of Belarus.
They were presented with computer discs with details of the Internet
child pornography obsessions of
up to 500 Australians.
The previous month, US Attorney-
General John Ashcroft had revealed
the existence of Operation Falcon
and the indictment of pornography
website company Regpay, a company
operating from Belarus, and US firm,
Regpay processed subscriptions for
third-party Internet websites, While
Connections USA provided Regpay
with credit card processing services
for those subscriptions.
Just how much it cost to access this
material has not been revealed,
although it could have been as little
as a few dollars a visit.
"Regpay allegedly processed nearly
$4.1 million in subscription fees by
persons seeking pornography - much
of it being child pornography," Mr
It is now clear a significant number
of Australians were paying tor access
to child pornography websites hosted
out of Belarus and the beneficiaries
were Russian organised crime groups.
US authorities believe those arrested so far are just "the tip of the
iceberg" in the worldwide sting.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, based on the agency's
experience, hundreds - maybe thousands - more child pornography
fiends could be arrested in Australia.
Australia's Operation Auxin was
based on information uncovered by
agents which found 100,000 credit
card details when investigators
raided the Regpay empire last year.
About three-quarters of those originated in the US, but 25,000 came
from other nations, including Australia. About 900 people have been
arrested in the United Kingdom,
Switzerland, Sweden, the
Netherlands, Spain and France, US
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, Jamie Zuieback
said. "They were doctors, teachers,
counsellors, coaches, members of the
clergy and police officers," Ms
"The investigation continues and
we continue to make arrests each and
"It has been satisfying that we have
been able to identify and apprehend
these individuals but, at the same
time, it's just the tip of the iceberg."
Much remains to be revealed about
just how the investigators" inquiry
At the Australian end, the operation was led by the Canberra-based
Australian High Tech Crime Centre
within the AFP.
Officers liaised with state and territory police forces who conducted
raids, seized computers and interviewed and charged suspects.
High Tech Crime Centre chief,
Agent Mike Phelan, said it was not
yet known whether any Australian-
produced material featured on the
The array of charges show that
those implicated did more than just
hoard and view offensive images.
Some have been charged with rape
and sexual assault, while one man has
been charged with child sex tourism.
Adelaide Advertiser (2-10-2004)