FEDERAL authorities announce 100 arrests from commercial child porn


Wednesday, August 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


WASHINGTON (AP) -- One hundred people have been arrested as part
of an undercover sting investigation into the largest known
commercial child pornography business ever uncovered, federal
officials said Wednesday.
The two-year investigation began with Landslide Productions
Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas, company owned by Thomas and Janice
Reedy. Authorities said the company was at the center of an
international child pornography business that distributed lewd
pictures of children having sex to subscribers over the Internet.
The Reedys were charged in an 89-count federal indictment with
conspiracy to distribute and possession of child pornography.
Landslide grossed as much as $1.4 million in one month alone,
the profits coming from monthly fees viewers paid to access child
pornography Web sites, authorities said. Called Operation
Avalanche, the undercover operation was based on intelligence
developed from the Landslide investigation and encompassed 30
federally funded task forces formed to combat Internet crimes
against children.
"During an Operation Avalanche search, we found a collection of
videotapes produced by a suspect depicting the sexual abuse of
several young girls. One of the girls was only 4 years old," said
Chief Postal Inspector Kenneth C. Weaver.
He said the suspect had worked as a computer consultant.
Pornography also was distributed through the mail, Weaver said.
The Reedys were convicted last year on charges that included
sexual exploitation of minors and distribution of child
pornography. A federal judge on Monday sentenced Thomas Reedy, 37,
to life in prison and his 32-year-old wife, Janice, to 14 years in
prison.
Landslide provided a credit card verification service that
admitted customers into Web sites containing graphic pictures and
videos of children engaging in sex acts with adults and with each
other, the government charged.
Landslide charged customers $29.95 per month for access and
netted more than $1 million between 1997 and 1999, the government
said.
The Web site had about 250,000 subscribers. Holmes said
authorities tracked down some of them using electronic and credit
card information gathered in an investigation conducted by the
postal inspection service, U.S. Customs Service, the FBI and the
Dallas Police Department. It is illegal to possess child
pornography.
The porn sites were run by operators in Russia and Indonesia.
Warrants have been issued for their arrest.
Authorities said the Reedys kept 40 percent of the profits and
gave the operators 60 percent.