U.S. court sentences world's largest provider of child porn to 27 years

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Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. district court judge has sentenced an Irish man prosecutors said was one of the world's largest providers of child pornography to 27 years in federal prison.

Dual U.S.-Irish citizen Eric Eoin Marques, 36, of Dublin was sentenced on Wednesday by District Court Judge Theodore Chuang after pleading guilty in February to providing an anonymous web service on the dark web that hosted more than 200 websites displaying millions of images and videos of child exploration, the Justice Department said in a statement.

"Eric Marques was one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world," Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan Lenzner said. "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."

The dark web refers to websites hidden on the Internet that can only be accessed by special software.

Marques pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to advertise child pornography after being extradited to the United States in March of 2019.

According to his plea deal, Marques admitted to hosting the service from July 24, 2008, to July 29, 2013, when he was arrested as part of a coordinated global investigation that took down more than 200 child sexual exploitation websites, disrupting the activities of tens of thousands of child pornographers and seizing more than 4 million images and videos of child sexual abuse resulting in dozens of prosecutions.

Authorities said of the more than 8.5 million images and videos of child abuse retrieved from the websites Marques hosted nearly 2 million involved victims previously unknown to law enforcement.

"Many of these images involved sadistic abuse of infants and toddlers," the Justice Department said.

Marques was also sentenced to lifetime supervised release.

"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," FBI Assistant Director Calvin Shivers said.

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