A United States court sentenced an Irish man, described by authorities as the largest facilitator of child sexual abuse images, to 27 years in prison on Sept. 15.
U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang handed down the prison sentence to 36-year-old Eric Eoin Marques for conspiracy to advertise child pornography by operating a hosting service on the dark web that allowed users to view and share images documenting child sexual abuse.
“This crime was truly despicable,” Chuang said.
According to an investigation, Marques’ hosting service contained over 200 child exploitation websites with millions of child exploitation materials.
In his guilty plea, Marques admitted that his offense included the distribution of child pornography, which involved minors who were less than 12 years old, and depictions of violence.
Marques, a dual citizen, pleaded guilty to the offense on Feb. 6, 2020 after Irish authorities extradited him.
Marques also admitted to willfully obstructing the investigation.
Marques’ prosecution was part of a global investigation onto the trade of child pornography. The investigation took down over 200 child sexual exploitation websites, seized over four million images and videos of child sexual abuse, and prosecuted dozens of offenders around the world.
“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,” Calvin Shivers, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said.
As part of his plea agreement, Marques will return to Ireland immediately after completing his prison sentence in the U.S.
However, U.S. officials warned that “no child in the world is safe” no matter where Marques is.
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