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May 27, 2020Washington, DC, United StatesChild Exploitation

HSI criminal analyst in Colorado named finalist for prestigious award

WASHINGTON — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Criminal Analyst Kim Reece was named as a finalist for the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. Ms. Reece, alongside cross-agency partners Christopher M. Janczewski, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), and Zia M. Faruqui, U.S. Department of Justice, led an international criminal investigation of the largest dark web child pornography site accepting cryptocurrency to cloak more than one million video downloads. Their efforts resulted in the arrests of the operator and more than 330 users, as well as the rescue of 25 exploited children.

“It is a great honor and privilege to recognize Kim Reece for her nomination for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal,” said Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of Director, Matthew T. Albence. “Even more important than this prestigious acknowledgement, however, is her continued dedication and use of her expertise to protect exploited children. The efforts of Ms. Reece and her interagency partners were instrumental to the takedown of this international criminal organization.”

According to the indictment, on March 5, 2018, agents from HSI, IRS-CI, the National Crime Agency in the United Kingdom, and the Korean National Police in South Korea arrested Jong Woo Son, 23, a South Korean national, and seized the server he used to operate a darknet market exclusively advertising child sexual exploitation videos available for download by site members.

The operation resulted in the seizure of approximately eight terabytes of child sexual exploitation videos, which is one of the largest seizures of its kind. The content, which is currently being analyzed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), contained more than 250,000 unique videos. Forty-five percent of the videos analyzed thus far had not previously been encountered by law enforcement.

“Welcome to Video” offered videos for sale using the cryptocurrency bitcoin. Typically, sites of this kind give users a forum to trade in these depictions. This darknet website is among the first of its kind to monetize child exploitation videos using bitcoin. In fact, the site itself boasted over one million downloads of child exploitation videos by users. Each user received a unique bitcoin address when the user created an account on the website. An analysis of the server revealed that the website had more than one million bitcoin addresses, signifying that the website had capacity for at least one million users.

HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423; TTY for hearing impaired: (802) 872-6196. This hotline is staffed around-the-clock by investigators.

HSI protects and rescues children from criminals who seek to harm or exploit them. Learn more about Operation Predator.

Voting is now open for the People’s Choice Award. You may vote for as many finalists as you want, and you may submit your votes once every 24 hours. Throughout the voting period, the number of contenders will be narrowed, and the polls will reset for the remaining top contenders. The 27 finalists are contenders for six Service to America Medals, including the Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement medal. Other medal categories include Emerging Leaders; Science and Environment; Safety, Security, and International Affairs; Management Excellence; and Federal Employee of the Year. Medal recipients will be announced in fall 2020.

Updated: 12/15/2020