Robert Merz – Repeat Sex Offender – Busted for Child Porn Ring

Merz had two prior convictions for the molestation of two young girls on separate occasions.

A Philadelphia man was convicted yesterday on charges that he advertised child pornography on the Internet, the first such case in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid said.

Robert Merz, 45, was convicted of advertising, receiving, transporting, and possessing child pornography, Magid said in a news release.

According to Magid, Merz operated a child-pornography message board titled “My Kingdom.” He placed a notice and advertisement on the board explaining the forum’s rules and purpose and the general content of the pictures of the children to be posted. The online group had members from around the world chosen by Merz, Magid said.

According to court records, Merz is “a self-admitted pedophile” and spent about a decade in prison for convictions related to molestation.

investigators testified at trial that Merz created and administered an online group that was dedicated to trading images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of minors. The online group had members from around the world who were handpicked by Merz. The group could only be accessed via a password and was established not only to trade images and videos of minors, but also so members could talk about their common sexual interest in children.

“Mr. Merz, simply by using the Internet, collected and distributed hundreds of thousands of images and videos of some of the most horrific and unimaginable criminal acts committed against children,” said Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Lanny A. Breuer. “These images aren’t just abstract representations. They are depictions of real crimes committed against those who are most deserving or our protection.”

The identification of this online group resulted from Operation “Joint Hammer,” the U.S. component of “Operation Koala,” an ongoing global operation targeting transnational rings of child pornographers that was initiated by Europol and Eurojust, and involved 28 countries.

Testimony at Merz’s trial revealed that this conviction was not his first related to child exploitation. Pennsylvania law enforcement established that Merz had two prior convictions for the molestation of two young girls on separate occasions.

Sentencing has been set for July 13, 2009. At sentencing, Merz will face a mandatory minimum of 35 years and up to life in prison as well as the possibility of a lifetime period of supervised release if he does not receive a life sentence. He will also face a fine up to $250,000.

“25% of all sex offenders re-offend within 15 years”
………Sarah Tofte

Operation Joint Hammer Busts Child Porn Rings Worldwide

About 170 people, including more than 60 Americans, have been arrested in the breakup of seven major child pornography rings worldwide, the FBI said Monday.

The U.S. law enforcement agency said Operation Joint Hammer, which started with a tip from Australian authorities in 2006, is already one of the largest child porn probes on record and it isn’t over yet, the agency said on its Web site.

The FBI said along with the arrests, authorities rescued 14 girls, some as young as 3, who had been sexually abused by pornographers.

The FBI said authorities in Queensland, Australia, came across a pornographic video online showing a young Dutch girl. That led to the arrest of an alleged molester in Belgium and a video producer from Italy.

A list of 50,000 e-mails from 28 countries, including 11,000 from the United States, was seized from the video producer and that led to the start of Operation Joint Hammer, the FBI said.

Dangerous sexual predators have been stopped, the FBI said, including a New Jersey man producing sexual images of his 9-year-old daughter, an Arizona elementary school teacher who was a customer of the Italian Web site and a convicted sex offender from Philadelphia.

We’re still working our way through all the cases, said the unnamed FBI agent in charge of the investigation.

Cooperation is the key.

Operation Joint Hammer – Rescues 11 girls

More than 170 people around the globe, including at least 61 in the United States, have been arrested in a major operation targeting international child pornographers, officials said Friday.

Operation Joint Hammer has rescued 11 girls in the United States, ages 3 to 13, who were sexually abused by child pornography producers, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and representatives of the European Union said at the Justice Department.

Dozens more were located in Europe, including several young female victims in Ukraine.

Authorities found connections between producers, distributors and customers in nearly 30 countries as a single investigation grew to a global inquiry into the dark corners of brutality and child abuse.

The investigation, code-named Operation Koala in Europe, was developed when investigators determined that a pornographic video found in Australia had been produced in Belgium.

“This joint EU-U.S. coordinated effort began with the discovery in Europe of a father who was sexually abusing his young daughters and producing images of that abuse,” Mukasey said.

Further investigation showed a number of online child porn rings. Some included dangerous offenders who not only traded child pornography but also sexually abused children, the officials said.

Agents are still attempting to locate child victims whose images have appeared in photos and videos, and more arrests are expected as the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Postal Inspection Service continue the investigation.

A Postal Service official said ringleaders primarily targeted prepubescent female victims to satisfy their customers but noted that other groups produce photos and videos of boys and girls of all ages — or even infants.

“For this subset, that’s what turns them on,” the official said.