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Child Exploitation
08/23/2012

New Hampshire man arrested on federal child porn warrant

MANCHESTER, N.H. — A Bristol, N.H., man was arrested Thursday on federal child pornography charges as part of a large-scale investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

William Davis, 38, was arrested on a warrant issued by the Western District of Louisiana U.S. Attorney's Office for conspiracy to distribute child pornography and conspiracy to advertise the distribution of child pornography.

"Davis and the other conspirators of the nightmare called Dreamboard mistakenly believed that they could commit heinous crimes against children and hide in the shadows," said Bruce M. Foucart, special agent in charge of HSI Boston. Foucart oversees HSI throughout New England. "Criminals with this kind of depravity in mind should know that Homeland Security Investigations is ever vigilant. For every tactic taken to evade law enforcement, we will adapt our strategies to find them and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law."

Davis is one of 72 people indicted for their participation in an international criminal network, known as Dreamboard, which was dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the creation and dissemination of graphic images and videos of child sexual abuse throughout the world.

The charges against these defendants were a result of Operation Delego, an ongoing HSI investigation launched in December 2009 that targeted individuals around the world for their participation in Dreamboard. Dreamboard was a private, members-only, online bulletin board created and operated to promote pedophilia and encourage the sexual abuse of very young children in an environment designed to avoid law enforcement detection. Operation Delego represents the largest prosecution to date in the United States of individuals who participated in the online bulletin board.

All 72 defendants were charged with conspiring to advertise and distribute child pornography, and 50 were also charged with engaging in a child exploitation enterprise. Out of the 72 charged defendants, 56, including Davis, have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Forty-one individuals have pleaded guilty and one defendant was convicted after a four-day jury trial. Twenty-eight of the 41 individuals who pleaded guilty have been sentenced to prison and received sentences ranging from 15 years to life. Twelve of the 72 charged individuals remain at large and are known only by their online identities. Efforts to identify and apprehend these individuals continue.

According to court documents and evidence presented at the trial of defendant John Wyss, aka "Bones," Dreamboard members traded graphic images and videos of adults molesting children 12 years of age or younger, often violently, and collectively created a massive private library of images of child sexual abuse. The international group prized and encouraged the creation of new images and videos of child sexual abuse – numerous Dreamboard members sexually abused children, produced images and videos of the abuse, and shared the images and videos with other members of Dreamboard.

Dreamboard members employed a variety of measures designed to conceal their criminal activity from detection by law enforcement. Members communicated using aliases or "screen names," rather than their actual names. Links to child pornography posted on Dreamboard were required to be encrypted with a password that was shared only with other members. Members accessed the board via proxy servers, which routed Internet traffic through other computers so as to disguise a user's actual location and prevent law enforcement from tracing Internet activity. Dreamboard members also encouraged the use of encryption programs on their computers, which password-protect computer files to prevent law enforcement from accessing them in the event of a court-authorized search.

Membership was tightly controlled by the administrators of Dreamboard, who required prospective members to upload child pornography portraying children 12 years of age or younger when applying for membership. Once they were given access, members were required continually to upload images of child sexual abuse in order to maintain membership. Members who failed to follow this rule would be expelled from the group.

The bulletin board included rules of conduct, printed in English, Russian, Japanese and Spanish. Approved members were required to observe strict posting rules designed to encourage members to disseminate large quantities of child pornography, thwart efforts by law enforcement to identify members of the board, and encourage members to sexually abuse children in order to produce new material for the board. The board rules also required members to organize postings based on the type of content. One particular category was entitled "Super Hardcore." The rules for that category described in graphic language that the only posts permitted were those involving adults having violent sexual intercourse with "very young kids" who were being subjected to both physical and sexual abuse and were obviously "in distress, and or crying."

Operation Delego involved extensive international cooperation to identify and apprehend Dreamboard members abroad. Through coordination amongst HSI; the Department of Justice; Eurojust, the European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit; and dozens of law enforcement agencies throughout the world, 20 Dreamboard members across five continents and 14 countries have been arrested to date outside the United States, including two of the five lead administrators of the board. Those countries include Canada, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Kenya, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, Serbia, Sweden and Switzerland. Numerous foreign investigations related to Operation Delego remain ongoing. The location and arrest of Dreamboard members abroad have led to the capture and investigation of other global targets.

Evidence obtained during the operation revealed that at least 38 children across the world were suffering sexual abuse at the hands of the members of the group. Efforts by federal, state, local and international law enforcement to locate and identify the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation by Dreamboard members are ongoing.

The investigation was conducted by HSI; the Child Exploitation Section of HSI's Cyber Crimes Center (C3); the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) of the Justice Department's Criminal Division; CEOS's High Technology Investigative Unit; 35 HSI offices in the United States; and 11 HSI attaché offices in 13 countries around the world. Assistance was provided by numerous local and international law enforcement agencies across the United States and throughout the world.

This investigation was also part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-DHS-2-ICE or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.