Individuals in Dallas, Texas, should understand that Internet use is rarely 100 percent private. From adware to the authorities, organizations track your movement and activity online for a variety of reasons. A group of individuals who were arrested in a federal sting operation known as "Operation Round Table" drew the interest of authorities due to allegations of internet solicitation and child pornography.
According to authorities, the leader of the operation resided in a neighboring state, but the ring of individuals involved and the list of victims spans the entire globe. Federal investigators allege that individuals within the solicitation ring pretended to be girls online. They then talked boys into sharing explicit images of themselves or others; those images were further shared online.
Authorities report that many of the victims were age 13 to 15, though at least two of the boys were under the age of three. Investigators say there are around 250 victims. Victims are located in five countries other than the United States as well as 39 states.
A 27-year-old in a neighboring state is accused of being the ringleader for the operation. Authorities arrested 14 men in the case; they report that 10 of the other men reside in the same state as the alleged ringleader. According to authorities, the 27-year-old admits to creating fake online personas and say he encouraged others to do so as well.
Court documents indicate the man was arrested in June 2013 and has been in custody since that date. Documents also indicate that the man plans to change his plea to guilty in a hearing on March 27; he is facing a possible sentence of 20 years up to life in prison.
It's important to remember that not everyone who is arrested is guilty. That task falls to the prosecutor to provide guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Everyone charged with a crime has a right to a fair and unbiased trial, as well as the right to appeal a verdict that is unfavorable.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Feds Bust Online Child Exploitation Network; 14 Men Arrested" Eric Tucker, Mar. 18, 2014