by Jeannine Aversa, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States and 10 other countries executed
search warrants on people suspected of exchanging child pornography over
Internet, the Customs Service announced Wednesday.
In the United States, the targets of the investigation included a U.S.
military pilot, a registered nurse, a network administration for a
publishing company and an artist, Customs said. Search warrants involving
eight people were executed in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Tennessee,
Nevada, Oregon and Alaska.
From the searches, Customs agents seized 12 computers, more than 600
floppy disks and external drives, hundreds of videos, a digital comcorder
and a book on how to seduce children, the agency said.
One arrest was made in the United States, the agency said. The government
said that three of the individuals being targeted in the investigation had
been members of the wonderland child pornography ring that was broken up
At the same time, search warrants were issued by the United Kingdom,
Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Japan, Finland, Austria and
Sweden, Customs said.
The investigation, dubbed Operation Artus, began in November 2001, when
agents of the German National Police, using evidence gathered from a search
warrant, discovered that a German man had been exchanging child pornography
over the Internet, Customs said. The man provided nicknames of some members
of a group that German authorities believed were involved in the exchange
As a result of the German investigation, law enforcement authorities
able to identify eight people in the United States that the U.S. government
believes are involved in the child pornography ring, Customs said. Other
people outside the United States were also being targeted by other countries
for their alledged involvement in the ring.
Customs said that "a common aim of members was to find and exchange child
pornography in DVD quality movie file format. As a requirement, members
to offer new child pornography material from time to time to remain part
the group," Customs said.
Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner said the investigation "is yet another
example of how important international cooperation is to solving these types
The action comes after the FBI this week said it expects to arrest at
least 50 more people by week's end as it busts up an Internet
child-pornography ring that allegedly included two Catholic priests and
other members of the clergy.
The agency said Monday its "Operation Candyman" sweep already had
resulted in criminal charges against more than 89 people in 26 states. The
effort targeted members of three Internet discussion groups on Yahoo Inc.'s
Web site, including one called "Candyman," apparently named after a song
the 1971 children's movie "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."