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Irishman, 'one of world's largest facilitators' of child abuse images, jailed for 27 years in US

Marques had been arrested in Dublin and extradited to the US in 2019.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

AN IRISH MAN, described by an American prosecutor as ‘one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world’ has been jailed in the US for 27 years. 

Eric Eoin Marques (36) with an address in Ireland in Dublin, but who has dual citizenship here and in the US, had previously pleaded guilty in February 2020. 

Yesterday US District Judge Theodore D. Chuang sentenced Eric Eoin Marques to 27 years in federal prison for conspiracy to advertise child pornography on the dark web.

Marques arrived in the United States on 23 March, 2019, to face federal criminal charges filed in Maryland on 8 August, 2013. 

Dark web

He had entered into a plea agreement with the US Justice Department and legal documents said he was involved in a conspiracy to advertise child pornography on the dark web – an area of the internet used by criminals.

It can only be accessed using specialist software and allows users as well as website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.

A statement released by the Justice Department in the District of Maryland said that Marques’ hosting service hosted websites that allowed users to view and share images documenting the sexual abuse of children, including the abuse of prepubescent minors, violent sexual abuse, and bestiality.

“The investigation revealed that the hosting service contained over 200 child exploitation websites that housed millions of images of child exploitation material.

“Over 1.97 million of these images and/or videos involved victims that were not previously known by law enforcement.

“Many of these images involved sadistic abuse of infants and toddlers to include bondage, bestiality and humiliation to include urination, defecation and vomit,” the statement said.

Success

Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner described the sentence as a success for international law enforcement. 

“Eric Marques was one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world.

“This is an egregious case where one individual facilitated the abuse of more than a million new child victims and attempted to keep the abuse hidden on the dark web.

“We are grateful to our law enforcement partners here and abroad for helping us to bring Eric Marques to justice. 

“We will continue to do everything we can to find and prosecute those who use the anonymity of the Internet to perpetuate the cruel and heartless business of the sexual abuse of children for personal gain, in order to keep our children safe.”

Calvin Shivers, the FBI Assistant Director, said it was a success for the agency in their efforts to track child sex abuse criminals worldwide. 

“Today’s sentencing of Eric Marques sends a clear message to perpetrators of this egregious crime that no matter where you are in the world, law enforcement will hold you accountable and bring you to justice.

“The FBI combats crimes against children and stands up for vulnerable children across the globe,” he said. 

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The Justice Department statement said that during 2012 and 2013, FBI special agents and employees using computers in Maryland downloaded more than one million files from that website. 

As part of the investigation, those files were reviewed and nearly all of the files depict children engaged in sexually explicit acts. 

A substantial majority of the images downloaded by the FBI depict prepubescent children who are fully or partially nude or engaged in “sexually explicit conduct”.

Marques’ pleaded guilty to the distribution of child pornography, which involved minors who were less than twelve years old, to include infants and toddlers, and sadistic or masochistic material or depictions of violence.  

“The Marques prosecution was a part of a path-marking global investigation that targeted thousands of users of more than 200 websites operating on the Tor network and dedicated to the trade of child pornography,” the statement said. 

Global

The US Justice department said that the FBI, and Europol devised an globally coordinated which at the time was of “unparalleled scope”.

“Which pooled resources of over a dozen countries who deployed over 70 law enforcement agents to Europol, which served as the hub for operational support, facilities and information sharing.

“Through this investigation, more than 200 child sexual exploitation websites were taken offline; the activities of tens of thousands of online child pornographers were disrupted; over four million images and videos of child sexual abuse were seized; and dozens of offenders were identified and prosecuted throughout the world,” it said.   

United States Attorney Jonathan F. Lenzner and Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. both thanked An Garda Síochána and EUROPOL for their assistance in the case. 

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