W A S H I N G T O N, Aug. 8, 2001 -- One hundred people have been arrested as partof an undercover sting investigation into the largest knowncommercial child pornography business ever uncovered, U.S.government officials said today.
The two-year investigation began with Landslide ProductionsInc., a Fort Worth, Texas, company owned by Thomas and JaniceReedy. Authorities said the company was at the center of aninternational child pornography business that distributed lewdpictures of children having sex to subscribers over the Internet.
The porn sites were run by operators in Russia and Indonesia.Warrants have been issued for their arrest.
The Reedys were charged in an 89-count federal indictment withconspiracy to distribute and possession of child pornography.
Landslide Hit By an Avalanche
Landslide grossed as much as $1.4 million in one monthalone, the profits coming from monthly fees viewers paid to accesschild pornography Web sites, authorities said. Called OperationAvalanche, the undercover operation was based on intelligencedeveloped from the Landslide investigation and encompassed 30federally funded task forces formed to combat Internet crimesagainst children.
"During an Operation Avalanche search, we found a collection ofvideotapes produced by a suspect depicting the sexual abuse ofseveral young girls. One of the girls was only 4 years old," saidChief Postal Inspector Kenneth C. Weaver.
He said the suspect had worked as a computer consultant.
Pornography also was distributed through the mail, Weaver said.
Credit Card Tracking Devices
The Reedys were convicted last year on charges that includedsexual exploitation of minors and distribution of childpornography. A federal judge on Monday sentenced Thomas Reedy, 37,to life in prison and his 32-year-old wife, Janice, to 14 years inprison.
Landslide provided a credit card verification service thatadmitted customers into Web sites containing graphic pictures andvideos of children engaging in sex acts with adults and with eachother, the government charged.
Landslide charged customers $29.95 per month for access andnetted more than $1 million between 1997 and 1999, thegovernment said.
The Web site had about 250,000 subscribers. Holmes saidauthorities tracked down some of them using electronic and creditcard information gathered in an investigation conducted by thepostal inspection service, U.S. Customs Service, the FBI and theDallas Police Department. It is illegal to possess childpornography.
Authorities said the Reedys kept 40 percent of the profits andgave the operators in Russia and Indonesia 60 percent.