US Imprisons World's Largest Facilitator of CSAM

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A dual Irish-American citizen has been sentenced to 27 years in US federal prison for sharing on the dark web millions of images depicting the sexual abuse of children, toddlers and infants. 

Dublin resident Eric Eoin Marques was extradited to the United States on March 23, 2019, to face federal criminal charges filed in Maryland on August 8, 2013. On February 6, 2020, 36-year-old Marques pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography on the dark web. 

According to his plea agreement, between July 24, 2008, and July 29, 2013, Marques operated a free, anonymous web-hosting service (AHS) called Freedom Hosting that hosted more than 200 child exploitation websites on the darknet. The websites hosted by Marques housed millions of images of child exploitation material, including over 1.97 million videos and images featuring victims not previously known to law enforcement. 

"Many of these images involved sadistic abuse of infants and toddlers to include bondage, bestiality and humiliation to include urination, defecation and vomit," said the US Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland in a statement published Wednesday.

In his guilty plea, Marques admitted distributing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) involving children under twelve and sadistic or masochistic material or depictions of violence.  

According to Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner, “Eric Marques was one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world.” 

On September 15, US District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Marques to 27 years in federal prison, followed by lifetime supervised release.

The Marques prosecution was part of a global investigation targeting thousands of users of more than 200 websites operating on the Tor network edicated to trading in CSAM. This investigation led to the disruption of the activities of tens of thousands of online child sexual abuse material creators and the seizure of over four million images and videos of child sexual abuse.

“Today’s sentencing of Eric Marques sends a clear message to perpetrators of this egregious crime that no matter where you are in the world, law enforcement will hold you accountable and bring you to justice,” said FBI Assistant Director Calvin Shivers.

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