Global Pedophile Ring Investigation That Netted 700 Suspects Stemmed in Part From Earlier U.S. Case

The British police sting that busted a pedophile network Monday of more than 700 suspects in 35 countries stemmed in part from an ongoing U.S. investigation of "molestation on demand" that spanned several states here, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The worldwide pedophile operation involved the abuse of at least 31 young children, some who were photographed and others who were molested live on streaming video.

More than 15 of the tiny victims were in Britain, the British government's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP) found in its probe.

The children were rescued by British authorities, who have identified and are investigating the 700 suspects — 200 of whom are based in Britain, according to the CEOP. In addition to Britain and the United States, Australia and Canada also took part in the investigation.

A British man, 27-year-old Timothy David Martyn Cox, ran a site used for the sharing of the horrific images from his bedroom in Suffolk, where he lived with his parents. A judge sentenced Cox on Monday to an indefinite jail term.

The latest developments come on top of the 27 defendants in four countries already charged in the case with the possession, receipt, distribution and manufacture of child pornography, according to ICE. Thirteen of them were in the United States, nine in Canada, three in Australia and two in Great Britain. One of the 27 is a fugitive.

Of the 13 defendants charged in this country, two Springfield, Ill., men — 34-year-old Billy Joe Bowser and 49-year-old Anthony Adams — have been convicted and sentenced, Bowser to the maximum of 20 years behind bars and Adams to 19 years, the ICE reported last year, when the indictments were handed down.

Both pleaded guilty in October 2006 to receiving, possessing and transporting child pornography. Their sentences are without parole, since there is no parole in the U.S. federal prison system.

The global network of pedophiles molested infants as young as only 2 months old, according to Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which worked closely with law enforcement agencies worldwide on the case.

"We're seeing that the victims are becoming younger and younger," Allen told In fact, he said, 39 percent of child pornography offenders in this country have images of children under 6; 19 percent have images of kids younger than 3.

"These are crime scene photos. This memorializes the molestation of a child," Allen said. "These images are inseparable from the physical victimization of children."

Missing British toddler Madeleine McCann — who made international headlines in early May after she disappeared in Portugal while she was with her parents on vacation — may have been taken by an international pedophile network, Portuguese authorities have theorized.

But there is no evidence to date to suggest that the ring nabbed by British police kidnapped the 3-year-old, according to Allen — whose organization has received numerous tips about Madeleine since she vanished.

"I'm confident there's no connection with this case," Allen said. "This [global] investigation has been going on a long time. It would be speculation until we find the child. We've received leads and sightings to follow up on, but to my knowledge, there's nothing that gives anybody a strong sense of where she is and who took her."

In the American part of the global pedophile investigation, begun in April 2005, undercover agents infiltrated a private Internet chat room called "Kiddypics & Kiddyvids" that was used worldwide to trade thousands of images of child pornography — including streaming videos of live molestations — in part through peer-to-peer file sharing, according to ICE.

The American probe was comprised of investigations in at least 11 states, resulting in the 13 indictments in nine states, the ICE reported in March 2006, when U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced the indictments.

Authorities found hordes of extremely disturbing images of "molestation on demand," according to ICE.

In addition to Illinois, indictments were unsealed last March in Tennessee, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, New York, Arizona and Hawaii and also in North Carolina state court. Thirteen defendants were charged with offenses including possession, distribution and receipt of child pornography, according to ICE.

On Monday in Britain, Cox — who referred to himself as "Son of God" — was sentenced to an indefinite jail term at Ipswich Crown Court after he admitted to nine offenses of possessing or distributing obscene photos of children. His sentence means he'll stay in prison until authorities decide that he no longer poses a threat to minors.

Police found 75,960 explicit images on his computer and evidence that he'd sent 11,491 such photographs and videos to other users. Cox was arrested in September 2006.

Officers nabbed other pedophiles in the ring by continuing to run the site under Cox's name after his arrest.

A man characterized as Cox's deputy, 33-year-old Gordon Mackintosh, tried to restart the chat room in January, but British, American, Canadian and Australian investigators again tapped into the operation and thwarted it.

Mackintosh was arrested in January, after which agents impersonated him online to find other perpetrators. He has pleaded guilty to 27 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images and videos and is awaiting his sentence.

Twenty-four Canadian suspects have been arrested and seven children rescued, a Canadian official told The Associated Press, but the time period for that portion of the operation was longer than the 10 months the British said their probe lasted.