- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The president and the marketing director of a Belarus-based Internet billing company linked to more than 1,000 child-pornography arrests worldwide have been extradited from France to the United States to face conspiracy, money-laundering and child-pornography charges, federal authorities said yesterday.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Dean Boyd said Yahor Zalatarou, 26, and Alexei Buchnev, 27, both of Minsk, Belarus, were arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., after their arrival from France.

Mr. Boyd said Mr. Zalatarou, president of Regpay Co. Ltd., and Mr. Buchnev, the firm’s marketing director, were ordered held pending trial, tentatively scheduled for March 1.

Both are charged with conspiracy to transport by computer visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to engage in illegal financial transactions. Mr. Zalatarou also is charged with conspiracy to advertise child pornography.

Mr. Boyd said the July 2003 arrest of the two men in France was part of the first phase of an ICE investigation known as “Falcon,” which focused on Regpay’s billing services for 50 child-pornography Web sites and a number of suspected child-pornography Web sites it operated on its own.

The investigation, he said, also focused on Connections USA Inc. of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., another credit-card processing company. Two of its officers have pleaded guilty in agreements with the government. The president of the company, Arthur Levinson, was charged with money-laundering offenses and will be tried in March.

Mr. Boyd said the second phase of the investigation is ongoing and focuses on thousands of people worldwide who purchased child-pornography subscriptions from the Regpay sites.

ICE agents have arrested 190 persons in the United States in connection with the case, he said. The agency also has provided leads to foreign law-enforcement members that have resulted in approximately 860 arrests in Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, China, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, he said.

Mr. Boyd said some of the subscribers arrested included a California seventh-grade teacher, the chief of pediatric medicine at a New York hospital, a minister at a girls school in New Jersey, a Louisiana Catholic priest and a Nevada camp counselor. Most recently, an award-winning firefighter in California was charged with 56 counts of possessing child pornography purchased from Regpay-affiliated sites, he said.

Mr. Zalatarou and Mr. Buchnev were arrested at a Paris restaurant after they had been persuaded to travel to France in a ruse arranged by ICE agents. The two had been in custody in Paris since their arrest and had been fighting extradition until a French court ruled in favor of sending them to the United States.

Aliaksandr Boika, 29, Regpay’s technical administrator, was arrested in Spain on July 31, 2003. He was extradited to New Jersey in June and is charged with conspiracy to advertise child pornography, conspiracy to transport and ship by computer visual depictions of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to engage in financial transactions involving more than $10,000.

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