Child Porn Raid Renders 23,000

Gretchen Gallen
TEXAS – The FBI uncovered a child porn ring that involved 23,000 U.S. residents, authorities announced Wednesday. All of the suspects in the case were tied to a website that peddled child porn on a subscription basis.

The investigation was conducted by Operation Site-Key, a task force launched by the FBI and Dallas police in 2001, which has so far resulted in 51 child porn convictions.

Site-Key was a California-based credit card verification service that interacts with many child porn companies. An investigation into Site-Key began in 2002 through which investigators were able to obtain a list of thousands of child porn suspects and their personal identification information. Site-Key has since been shut down.

A spokesperson for the FBI stated that Operation Site-Key also contributed to the closure of 50 other child porn websites.

The list of subscribers is presently being reviewed by authorities and will be investigated according to the volume and severity of content purchased from the site. According to police, the majority of the subscribers to the child porn site had no pre-existing criminal records.

Dallas police report that the images on the website ran the gambit of child porn content, featuring what is being referred to as "hardcore" images of infants all the way to pre-teens.

Some of the suspects under investigation include public officials and priests and in many instances represented a broader cross-section of society that investigators are attributing to the popularity of the Internet and the seeming anonymity of visiting sites that feature illegal content.

"Some of them have got it as wallpaper on their computers," said an officer close to the investigation. "I can tell you, if you're someone whose name is on this list ... do not think we won't be giving you a call."

The distribution of child porn in the state of Texas can result in a 10-year prison term with fines into the thousands of dollars. Possession of child porn can result in a prison term of five years if convicted.