German prosecutors have shut down an international child pornography site that runs in the darknet and caters to hundreds of thousands of users, reports say.
Frankfurt authorities together with the Federal Criminal Police Office have busted one of the world's largest child pornography platform that caters to 400,000 registered members who operate in the dark web, Faithwire reported. Three German suspects, aged 40, 49, and 58, who are believed to be administrators of the pornographic website were arrested in mid-April.
Of the three suspects, one was arrested in Paraguay and is in the process of extradition from there. The German authorities also arrested a fourth suspect who is believed to be one of the top users of the website. The fourth suspect is said to be a 64-year-old man who have uploaded more than 3,500 posts in the website, which are mostly "images of (the) most severe sexual abuse of toddlers."
The three suspects taught members how to use the platform such as in viewing, uploading, and downloading child pornography. The said website administrators also provided members advise on how to evade law enforcement while transacting with the platform.
The German authorities were able to shut down the said site and conduct the arrests through the aid of various law enforcement agencies from Australia, Canada, Europe, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States.
The New York Post revealed in its report that the name of the platform was "Boystown" and that it has been in operation since 2019 for pedophiles "to exchange and watch pornography of children and toddlers." Most of the children in the platform were of boys from around the world.
"The platform had several forums and chats--the illegal pictures and videos were kept in the forums; in the chats, the members could communicate. There were several language channels to facilitate the communication," explained prosecutor Julia Bussweiler to the New York Post.
The NYPost added that the platform was under investigation by the German police task force for months, as well as, the suspects and its users. Tthe 58-year-old suspect was from Northern Germany but had moved to Paraguay and lived there for many years, while the 49-year-old suspect was from Munich and the youngest of the three administrators was from Paderborn. The fourth suspect was from Hamburg.
Despite revealing their ages and locations, none of the suspects' identities were given by the German prosecutors to the public.
The German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer praised their local authorities for successfully closing the pornographic site, the NYPost said.
"This investigative success has a clear message: Those who assault the weakest aren't safe anywhere. That's what investigators work for day and night, online and offline, globally. We'll do everything within our power to protect the kids from these disgusting crimes," Seehofer told the NYPost.
Archyde was able to get a screenshot of the Boystown platform on April 13 before it was shutdown by German authorities. The screenshot showed that topics are neatly arranged and forums provide live chats into categories for the easy use of users.
Archyde said "they prepared the depictions of sexual violence like in a catalog" sorted into "hardcore," "kindergarten," or "toddler" such that Federal Criminal Police Office described the movement of the platform as a "gang-like distribution of child pornographic content." Archyde revealed that the suspects face a prison sentence of up to ten years as provided by the German penal code.