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4 Jailed For Child Porn Business On Dark Net

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A 29-year old man from Tennessee, who ran a global online child sex exploitation business using a highly sophisticated Tor-network-based website, has been handed a lengthy jail term.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Patrick D. Falte, who was the creator and lead administrator of an anonymous network sharing photos and videos of children being sexually abused, was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Chief U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw of the Middle District of Tennessee also ordered imprisonment of three of his accomplices. Benjamin A. Faulkner, 28, of Ontario, Canada, was sentenced to 35 years in prison; Andrew R. Leslie, 24, of Middleburg, Florida, to 30 years; and Brett A. Bedusek, 35, of Cudahy, Wisconsin, to 20 years in prison.

The judge also sentenced each defendant to a lifetime of supervised release.

In July 2015, Falte had created "the Giftbox Exchange" website on the Tor network which makes users' network addresses anonymous.

Only those users who uploaded and shared images and videos depicting pre-teen children being sexually abused were able to access the site.

The site had forums for posting child pornography, categorized by age range of the minor victims, which included one for "Babies & Toddlers." When the site was shut down in November 2016, it had more than 72,000 registered users and 56,000 posts, DoJ said.

Falte and his team evaded the eyes of law enforcement officials using file encryption and cryptography. Payments for the operation of the site were made in Bitcoins.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and the High Technology Investigative Unit of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).

This case was brought as part of the Justice Department's "Project Safe Childhood" initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

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