Steven W Chase, 58, Admin of Playpen, a website hosted in dark web that published more than 50,000 images and videos of child abuse and pornographic material is jailed now for the rest of his lifetime (the next 30 years).
Chase a resident of Naples, Florida was arrested on Feb 19, 2015, after the FBI seized and analyzed his computers and claimed to find “thousands” of images showing sexual abuse of children and in some even toddlers.
The playpen was controlled and owned by Chase. he uploaded fresh materials daily made payments to hosting and was immersed by spending thousands of hours on the websites says the department of justice.
He was found guilty on September 16, 2016, and the federal jury charged him,
- one count of child exploitation
- one count of advertising child pornography
- one count of possession of child pornography and
- three counts of transportation of child pornography.
Since the websites were hosted and hidden in Tor, dark web, FBI took a controversial probe by using its hacking tools as it was difficult to shut down the network as the website was largely anonymous.
With the probe, FBI hacked nearly thousands of computers in 100 different countries with a single US warrant. But FBI tried to cover its techniques but the Doj in a statement revealed it had used NIT (Network Investigative Technique) to break the anonymity of the Tor network.
This had led to one of the biggest discovery of nearly 1,50,000 member along with chase had posted tens and thousands of sexual images of children by categorizing the online abuse into age, gender, and type.
Currently, more than 350 US individuals have been arrested involved in the abuse, 25 child porn peddlers along with 51 hands on abuses have been prosecuted. Department of Justice said,”Nearly 55 American Children were rescued”.
In an International level, FBI joining hands with Europol successfully rescued 186 children and made 500 arrests.
FBI told it will stop at nothing to combat child sexual abuse.
“The abuse of an innocent child is among the most unconscionable offenses,” said FBI investigator Stephen Richardson.
When multiple people conspire to develop and promote a malicious website to sexually assault and exploit children, the FBI furthers its resolve to find these perpetrators.
“As I have said before and as today’s sentencing proves, the FBI will stop at nothing to deliver justice for these innocent victims. We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women of the FBI and our international partners for their dedication and hard work on this case.”
US attorney, Jill Westmoreland Rose called Chase the ‘mastermind and gatekeeper’ of playpen website and added: “The depiction of the horrendous sexual exploitation of innocent and vulnerable children is a crime my office takes very seriously”.