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By  — @christnjournal —  See Comments
Region: Published: May 29, 2017  Updated: May 29, 2017 at 8:26 am EST

One arrest led to hundreds of arrests and hundreds of lives saved worldwide.

The FBI arrested Steven Chase, 58, the operator of the now defunct site “Playpen,” and was sentenced to 30 years behind bars. Upon release, he will be supervised for the remainder of his life by authorities.

Arrested in 2015, and charged with one count of engaging in a child exploitation enterprise, one count of advertising child pornography, three counts of transportation of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography. He was found guilty by a jury trial in September.

Chase’s website had 150,000 users worldwide, that used the ‘Tor anonymity network.’ The site allowed hundreds of thousands of pictures and videos to be uploaded of children being sexually abused.

While users tried to hide their activity, in December 2014, Chase accidentally revealed his IP address, which was captured by a foreign law enforcement agency that in turn notified the FBI. Chase’s home was subsequently searched and thousands of images were discovered on his electronic devices.

His co-conspirators, Michael Fluckiger, 46, of Portland, Indiana, and David Lynn Browning, 47, of Wooton, Kentucky, were arrested as well.

In January 2015, the FBI, along with the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, launched “Operation Pacifier” to bust the rest of site’s other thousands of users. It utilized a Network Investigative Technique (NIT) to decipher their IP addresses, which provided leads in every U.S. state, according to the government agency. – More

Fifty-five children in the U.S. and 296 children worldwide were identified and/or rescued. In total, the FBI saved hundreds of lives in this case and saved countless more lives had the site not been brought down.

“The case—and the thousands of follow-up investigations it has launched—is unprecedented in its scope and reach,” the FBI said in a statement. “It represents the Bureau’s most successful effort to date against users of Tor’s hidden service sites. And it has opened new avenues for international cooperation in efforts to prosecute child abusers around the world.”

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