DALLAS, TX (KXAS) - Federal agents announced the results of one of the largest online child exploitation investigations in history Tuesday, involving victims in 37 states and five foreign countries.
Operation Round Table, run by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations team, resulted in the arrest of 14 suspected producers and distributors of child pornography.
Federal investigators have identified and made contact with more than 250 victims of the Internet child pornography ring - including five victims from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 19 total from Texas.
Nearly all of the identified victims, 243 of the 251 total, were male, and more than half of the 159 victims were between 13 and 15 years old, according to investigators.
Many of the victims willingly posed for and shared suggestive photographs of themselves with people who they believed to be peers they had met online, Marwell said.
In reality, the assumed peers were predators who shared the nude and semi-nude photographs on the Darknet's Onion Router, also known as Tor, according to investigators.
Young people are savvy Internet users across many formats and their guardians need to be aware of who they interact with, Davis said.
Young people may be more willing to put themselves in precarious positions because they do not fully grasp the possible impact of their actions, Davis told NBC 5.