FBI Shuts Down Site Said to Advertise Child Porn

FBI Shuts Down Site Said to Advertise Child Porn
Rhett Pardon
LOS ANGELES — The FBI Tuesday arrested two men and shut down a website in connection of an investigation involving a message board that allegedly advertised child pornography.

The website, Namgla.net, was closed for business Tuesday after FBI agents searched homes and workplaces at 35 locations in 20 states. Authorities from 11 countries also were involved.

FBI spokeswoman Laura I. Miller told XBIZ that Namgla.net users could view and post messages to a computerized bulletin board, which was a mechanism to advertise and directly link users to websites containing child pornography.

Miller said that the owner of the site has not yet been apprehended in connection with the probe of the site, which has been operable since 2005. “This investigation is an ongoing one,” she said.

Dozens of computers and related items were seized and 22 individuals identified in connection with the distribution and possession of child pornography, including three subjects with prior criminal histories involving child porn or child sex offenses, authorities said.

Two individuals were arrested in connection with child porn charges – Russell Christie III, 48, a school bus driver residing in New Jersey, and Thomas Herman, 65, a convicted sex offender in Washington state.

The FBI operation, part of the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood initiative, continued across borders Tuesday.

Authorities also made searches in Ecuador, Chile, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria and Sweden, among others. Additional arrests were made in Bulgaria, Poland and Spain. In all, 49 Namgla.net subjects have been identified in 27 foreign countries.

In the U.S., searches were made at locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

ASACP Executive Director Joan Irvine told XBIZ that international cooperation among agencies is the "only way to even begin to attack the problem" of child protection, which the group advocates.

"Unfortunately, the fact that the site’s owner is still at large demonstrates just how hard it can be to track [child porn] operators," she said. "This particular case also shows the connection between commercial child pornography and peer-to-peer distribution, which can be even harder to stop.”