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Feds charge Ukrainian web site operator in biggest child porn investigation in history

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

(UPDATE): A Ukrainian citizen charged by New Jersey federal agents with operating a website that sold images of children being sexually abused offered customers ways of ducking detection, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said today, but hundreds of arrests were made, including of people later convicted of molesting children.

Maksym Shynkarenko arrested in 2008
YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: One of the largest takedowns of hardcore child pornography distribution in history has led to the arrest and extradition from Thailand of a Ukrainian citizen who the government said sold images from his website to U.S. citizens in New Jersey and elsewhere, making millions of dollars. READ MORE….


Maksym Shynkarenko’s site admitted it was “con
sidered to be illegal in all countries,” according to a 32-count indictment unsealed this morning in Newark that relates to “ the unspeakable abuse of thousands of innocent children,” Fishman said.

However, the indictment alleges the site told customers: “Even if you ever have problems with police, you can always say that someone had stolen the information from your credit card and used it. It is very difficult to establish that you were the person to pay.”

Shynkarenko was due in U.S. District Court in Newark this afternoon. He was brought here on Sunday by U.S. Marshals after losing a three-year fight to prevent extradition.

The charges contained in the indictment, including child exploitation and money laundering, are part of a massive, multi-agency investigation that has led to more than 560 convictions in 47 states, Fishman said.

Authorities say Shynkarenko, 33, was able to operate with virtual impunity out of the Ukraine, long a leading source of child pornography, because of the country’s lax law enforcement against pedophiles, as well as its rampant political corruption.

The poor economy was a contributor, as well. Food or candy reportedly was often good enough to get a child to participate in the production of hardcore photos or videos. Some of the material was even sold openly on the street.

Thai authorities originally detained Shynkarenko in Bangkok in January 2009 after he was seized, as part of an ICE investigation that began two years earlier, at a vacation villa he leased on a Phuket beach. Thailand has long been notorious as a haven of sex tourism, particularly involving minors.

“Distributors and consumers of child pornography create a market for sexual assaults on children, where the victimization of those children is refreshed with every download,” Fishman said. “Shyknarenko’s extradition from Thailand to a New Jersey courtroom is a milestone in one of our most important fights – keeping our children safe from harm.”

The indictment unsealed this morning in Newark charges Shyknarenko with 16 counts of transportation and shipment of child pornography; 12 counts of advertising child pornography; and one count each of conspiracy to advertise, transport and ship child pornography; engaging in a child exploitation enterprise and money laundering.

The indictment says Shyknarenko founded and operated a website, from December 2003 through July 2008 , that offered subscribers access to thousands of images and videos depicting the sexual abuse and exploitation of boys and girls, ranging from infants to teenagers.

Agents from ICE Homeland Security discovered the site in October 2005, based in part on e-mails
recovered from the computer of a customer from Long Branch. “Illegal.CP,” which had more than a dozen illegal images, said: “[n]ow you are … few minutes away from the best children porn site on the net!”

The indictment says it also boasted: “[i]f you join this site you will get tons of uncensored forbidden pics . . . forbidden stories, and, of course, many videos.”

An undercover fedreal agent bought a 20-day subscription to the site and, the next day, received an email that provided a login and a password – indicating that the credit card charges would appear on the subscriber’s credit card bill as “ADSOFT” and would include a charge for $79.99 the indictment says.

In conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, ICE HSI
agents in Newark identified hundreds of “Illegal.CP” customers from November 2005 to February 2006.

Those leads turned into a three-stage investigation: Operation Emissary , Emissary Two and Thin ICE, Fishman said this afternoon.

In late 2006, agents recovered a database of hundreds of additional individuals whose credit cards had been processed. Two years later, they turned their attention to

Shynkarenko and a trio of unindicated co-conspirators who they said operated the site.

The information, along with boilerplate search warrants prepared by the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office, were distributed to ICE HSI offices and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the nation.

“Operation Emissary,” which employed cutting edge investigative techniques, netted hundreds of people, including teachers, doctors, police, prison guards, and members of the military who pleaded guilty or were convicted. Dozens of child molesters were caught, as well.

Leading the way was the U.S. Attorney Office for New Jersey, based in Newark.

The convicted subscribers to the “Illegal.CP” website include not only dozens of previously convicted sex offenders but also 20 others who Fishman said were “actively molesting children.”

Fishman credited special agents of ICE HSI, as well as the U.S. Marshals Service, and the ICE HSI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide. He cited the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section for “important roles,” acknowledge the “vital work” of Thai authorities and said that MasterCard and Visa provided “invaluable assistance.”

The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark McCarren of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark and Harvey Bartle in Trenton.






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