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Gangsters Sickening Outreach

THE biggest child pornography crackdown in Australia's history can be traced to an office block in Minsk, Belarus, a corner of the former Soviet Union the Russian mafia calls home.
In mid-2003 a US child porn taskforce headed by the FBI and dubbed Operation Falcon followed a trail of credit card transactions to a Minsk company trading under the name Regpay Ltd.
Behind the corporate facade was a trio of 20-something gangsters posing as internet executives in the Belarussian capital. Their business thrived on providing sickening images of children to buyers in faraway countries, including the US and Australia.
Regpay supplied material to about 20 US websites which then on-sold the material to customers in Australia and other countries by subscriptions.
In July 2003, the US authorities tracked the porn merchants to Paris and Madrid.
With the help of the French and Spanish governments, Regpay managers Yahor Zalatarou, Alexei Buchnev and Aliaksandr Boika were put behind bars and later extradited to the US.
For the next six months, US agencies rounded up Regpay customers in New Jersey and Florida- Credit card companies Mastercard and Visa turned over their electronic records to Operation Falcon, helping to net 40 child porn customers and operators.
The US Attorney's office announced the results of the operation to a shocked public in January this year- Doctors, priests and teachers in small towns across America were found to be fulfilling their fantasies at the expense of children.
Not only were they downloading the images, some, including a Sydney doctor, were allegedly producing their own in studios and darkrooms attached to their professional rooms.
As Operation Falcon made the first round of arrests in January 2004, Australian law enforcers began receiving word that a child pornography ring was thriving in our capital cities. Behind the scenes, the FBI was briefing Australian Federal Police officers.
By day, many of those arrested worked in direct contact with children as teachers, police, childcare workers and even a pastor.

Herald Sun (1-10-2004)
Luke Mcliveen

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