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June 11, 2012

US Charges Alleged International Child Porn Distributor

by Carolyn Weaver

NEWARK, New Jersey - Federal prosecutors in New Jersey announced the indictment of a Ukrainian man in what they called the most "significant" child pornography investigation ever, one that has led to 560 convictions in the U.S. so far.

Thirty-three-year-old Maksym Shynkarenko made his first appearance in a federal court in New Jersey on Monday following his extradition from Thailand, where he had been jailed since 2009. He faces 32 counts related to allegedly founding and operating child porn websites from Ukraine that drew Internet customers worldwide from 2003 to 2008.

New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman told reporters that the videos and images showed the victimization of children ranging in age from infants to teenagers. “What we’re talking about are images, pictures and videos of the brutal sexual assault and torture by adults of children - preserved for the later gratification of strangers," he said.

Fishman said that 560 American subscribers to Shynkarenko’s website, in 47 states, have already been convicted in the investigation, which began in 2005.

At least 20 were actively molesting children, according to Homeland Security investigator special agent in charge Andrew McLees. “These predators come from all walks of life. Several of those were prior sex offenders, law enforcement, doctors, teachers, coaches, attorneys, clergy and other positions of public trust," he said.

The investigation began with the arrest of a New Jersey man, officials said. McLees said that agents discovered Internet credit-card payments on the man's computer to fake businesses with names like “Ad-Soft,” that were actually for child porn websites.  “During the forensics examination of his computer, our agents saw the lead back to the Ukraine, and that’s where they dug and dug, until it led to all these people," he said.

Officials said the pornography allegedly distributed by Shynkarenko was made by individuals around the world, making identifying and helping the victims almost impossible. Three other unnamed co-conspirators from Ukraine and Russia, whom officials refused to name, are also involved.  Shynkarenko will be arraigned Wednesday, and is being represented by a public defender.