Police in China have cracked down on a child-pornography ring on the dark web involving more than 30 under-age girls who were raped or molested, and arrested hundreds of suspects from across the mainland, media reports said.
Police arrested the primary suspect in the case, a 19-year-old man, in March after being informed by the US Homeland Security Department that some Chinese internet users had been uploading a massive amount of child pornography on the dark web, Xinhua reported.
The dark or deep web refers to internet content that is not accessible through conventional search engines, and is therefore a haven for cyber criminals.
Hundreds of videos were made available on the dark web by the pornography ring. According to the Jinghua Times, they showed more than 30 young girls being abducted, some by men on motorcycles, and then being raped or molested. The videos were accessed by internet users more than 20,000 times, a police officer was quoted as saying in the paper.
The primary suspect, surnamed Sun, had three terabytes of pornography, including 400 gigabytes of child porn, when arrested at his apartment in Beijing, Xinhua said.
A sophomore student at a Beijing university, Sun said he often purchased and distributed child pornography via instant-messaging groups such as QQ, as well as via cloud drives. He would upload videos to foreign websites in exchange for porn videos that he “never saw in China”, Sun was quoted as saying by Xinhua.
Police said some of the videos available on the dark web were produced and filmed in China, based on their language and the surroundings they were shot in.
“Seeing so many children forced into such a nightmare at such a young age makes every one of our police officers involved in the case extremely angry and sad,” said Zhang Min, who was in charge of the case.
The active members of the chat groups Sun was involved in would ask other group members to film videos of them sexually violating children, and then distribute these videos.
Some of the child victims were neighbours of the suspects or living near their workplaces, Zhang said.
Sun had been sentenced to 18 months in jail for distributing child porn, the Xinhua report said. The other suspects were still being investigated.