Tucson man arrested in federal child-porn sweep

2014-03-19T16:30:00Z 2014-07-13T15:49:52Z Tucson man arrested in federal child-porn sweepBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A Tucson man has been arrested by federal authorities who dismantled an extended network of child-pornography producers, officials say.

Vittorio Francesco Gonzalez-Castillo, 26, was arrested in January in connection with the child-pornography production and distribution organization.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security news release provided some details of the investigation, which included 228 minor victims in 39 states and 23 victims in other countries.

The release described how those accused in the case used an underground website from about June 2012 until June 2013 to distribute more than 2,000 child-pornography videos.

The site was concealed on the so-called Tor Network, a software system that can provide Internet users and websites online anonymity by directing traffic through a network of relays.

More than 27,000 people were members of the clandestine site, according to a news release. The site shared webcam-captured videos of mostly juvenile boys who were enticed by the operators of the site to produce sexually explicit material.

The ages of the victims range from 3 to 17 years old, the release said.

Federal authorities called the investigation “Operation Round Table,” which became public with the 2013 arrest of Jonathan Johnson in Louisiana. Forensic analysis federal authorities conducted indicated that Johnson was the creator and administrator of the underground site.

“Never before in the history of this agency have we identified and located this many minor victims in the course of a single child-exploitation investigation,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale said in a news release. “Our agency is seeing a growing trend where children are being enticed, tricked and coerced online by adults to produce sexually explicit material of themselves.”

Federal officials accuse Johnson of creating multiple online identities to communicate with and coerce minors to create the sexually explicit material.

Gonzalez-Castillo was charged in January in a Louisiana federal court with one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography. The indictment accuses him of using similar means as Johnson to acquire content for the clandestine site.

If convicted, he could face as many as 30 years in prison.

In addition to those charges, Gonzalez-Castillo already faced child-pornography-related charges in a federal court in Tucson.

He was charged in February 2013 with distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography and knowing how to access child pornography in the Arizona case.

In total, federal authorities have arrested 14 men across the country in connection with the child-pornography network.

One man already has pleaded guilty in connection to the case in Wisconsin and is serving a 30-year prison term for sexual exploitation of children.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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