Anderson, Indianapolis men charged in international child porn ring

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INDIANAPOLIS (November 21, 2013) – An Indianapolis man and an Anderson man are part of a federal probe into an international child pornography ring.

John Edwards, 61, Indianapolis, and Thomas Vaughn, 44, Anderson, are two of the 11 men charged in the case, which U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett referred to as a “worldwide child exploitation ring.”

According to the probable cause affidavit, the men began operating sometime in 2000 and continued the operation through April 2012. They used online chat rooms that were protected by a password where they exchanged information as well as pictures and videos that featured child exploitation, prosecutors said.

The group members dedicated the chat rooms “to the distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography.” They were also, prosecutors said, used “as a forum to discuss and promote the sexual exploitation of children.”

The group members used nicknames when communicating with one another and often used the same nickname or a similar one so they could identify one another. They needed to enter a secret password to access chat rooms and also had to have exacting know where to find each other. They also communicated through instant messaging, social networking websites and file transfers. On occasion, they discussed their personal lives and provided identifying information, court documents said.

Many of the group members had large collections of child pornography and worked to expand their collections by encrypting their files. Some of the defendants were actively involved in producing new images and videos of the exploitation, prosecutors said. Nearly 100 children around the world have been identified as victims during the investigation.

The group included members from other states, including Florida, New York, California, Texas, Virginia and Alabama. Additional defendants have been charged or are under investigation in Canada, Switzerland and other countries.

If convicted, the defendants face decades in prison, prosecutors said. They could also face significant fines and lifetime supervised release, and would be required to register as sex offenders.