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International Child Pornography Ring Busted

U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced on Wednesday that an international investigation has lead to more than two dozen arrests of people participating in an online child pornography ring.

"Kiddypics & Kiddyvids," a Web-based chat room, was the subject of a months-long investigation by undercover agents, who said that the Web site featured real-time streaming videos of adults molesting children. The youngest victim was 18-months old.

At a televised news conference, Gonzales said authorities have charged 27 people in the United States, Canada, Australia and Britain with possession, receipt, distribution and manufacture of child pornography. All but one of the 27 has been arrested.

Gonzales described the images that were available through the chat room as the "worst imaginable forms of child pornography."

Investigators said the images were distributed around the world via peer-to-peer file sharing and instant messenger applications.

Thirteen of those charged reside in the United States (Illinois, Tennessee, Michigan, Nevada, Florida, New York, Arizona, Hawaii and North Carolina), nine in Canada, three in Australia and two in England, according to the Justice Department.

Four of the suspects are accused of molestation, others have been charged with possession, receipt, distribution and manufacture of child pornography.

Julie Myers, assistant homeland security secretary for immigration and customs enforcement, speaking at the news conference, said that "molestation on demand" -- real time videos showing children being abused -- and an ever-widening group of child victims are two disturbing trends seen by investigators who infiltrate child pornography rings.

Prior to widespread public use of the Internet investigators primarily saw "recycled material" -- images portraying the same victims. Now material often includes images of previously unknown victims.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that the identified victims of the Kiddypics ring "are now in safe custody."