A Granger man was charged in connection with what's being called one of the largest online child exploitation investigations ever conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Andrew Korpal, 29, of Granger, was one of 14 men taken into federal custody in connection with a child pornography website, a news release from the ICE said. He was charged with receipt of child pornography.
According to the release, the men operated an underground website that victimized 251 minors in 39 states and five foreign countries. Eight of the victims were girls and 243 were boys. Most of them were between 13 and 15 years old, though many were younger. Three children under 6 have been identified, the release said.
"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," ICE Deputy Director Daniel Ragsdale said in a news release.
ICE said the website's manager, Jonathan Johnson, 27, of Abita Springs, La., created several fake female personas on social media sites, which he used to target children and teach other predators in the circle to do the same.
The website was on the Darknet's Onion Router, which allows users to browse anonymously, and was up from June 2012 to June 2013. ICE said the site had over 2,000 videos and more than 27,000 members.
For more information on the operation, visit ICE's website. The U.S. Department of Justice has also posted Korpal's federal indictment on its website.