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ECommerceTimes.com

Russian Web Site Selling Child Porn Shut Down

By Lori Enos
Mar 27, 2001 10:51 AM PT

The U.S. Customs Service and the Moscow City Police cooperated to shut down a Moscow-based Web site called Blue Orchid that was selling child pornography, the agency said Monday.

Russian Web Site Selling Child Porn Shut Down

As a result of the investigation, 15 arrest warrants were executed in the U.S., and four Americans and five Russians were arrested, Customs said. The agency also said that the Blue Orchid Web site was actually shut down in December and arrests have been made over the past several months.

"The United States Customs Service is working aggressively with law enforcement officials both here and abroad in making a worldwide assault on the producers, distributors and purchasers of child pornography sold over the Internet," acting U.S. Customs Commissioner Charles Winwood said.

"The global nature of the Internet demands a global response by law enforcement to protect innocent children, regardless of their nationalities," Winwood said.

International Effort

The joint investigation began in May, when Moscow City Police requested assistance from the U.S. Customs Attache in Moscow to identify and investigate the individuals responsible for the Blue Orchid Web site, which allegedly sold videos depicting the sexual and physical abuse of children.

As a result of the Moscow City Police's request, the Customs CyberSmuggling Center in Fairfax, Virginia arranged for an undercover purchase from the site.

After the purchase, Customs provided information to the Moscow police that led detention of one of the alleged operators, Vsevolod Solntsev-Elbe, and a 13-year-old boy, who had been transported by Elbe from Novokuybishevsk to Moscow for the purpose of sexual exploitation, Customs said.

After Elbe's December 10th arrest, more than 400 videotapes, video duplication equipment, and sales and shipping records were seized from his apartment. Sergey Garbko, the other alleged Web site operator, was arrested on December 18th.

Black Market

Customs said that the Russian portion of the investigation ended on March 2nd with the arrest of Victor Razumov, known as the "Punisher," on charges that he molested and sexually abused a 15-year-old boy during the making of two videos. Customs said that the movies depicted forcible sex and painful sadomasochistic activity.

Most of the tapes made in Russia were ultimately sold over the Internet to Americans for US$200 to $300 per tape. After reviewing records found in Elbe's apartment, U.S. Customs identified a number of U.S. suspects who had purchased child pornography from Blue Orchid.

Blue Orchid customers apparently chose their videos online, wired cash to the site proprietors, and then e-mailed instructions for delivery of the tapes. The tapes were sent via private courier or the postal service.

U.S. Arrests

When U.S. Customs agents in Chicago, Illinois searched the home of alleged customer Blue Orchid customer Glenn Martikean on January 26th, Customs agents learned that Martikean was in Russia. Martikean was arrested by U.S. Customs agents upon his return to the U.S. on January 31st for child pornography violations, including child sex tourism.

A grand jury indicted Martikean last Friday for illegally importing child pornography and for undertaking foreign travel with the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor.

Another alleged customer, Derek Lochiatto of Malden, Massachusetts, was arrested and charged Monday with possession of child pornography. The names of the other two individuals arrested in the U.S. have not been made public.

In addition to the arrests in the U.S. and Canada, Customs said that enforcement actions have been completed in Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands and that investigations are currently underway in a number of other European countries.


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