- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2005

New Zealand authorities, acting on leads provided by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have arrested 22 persons, confiscated more than 125 computers and seized 1,000 compact discs as part of a child-pornography investigation.

ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback said the arrests and seizures resulted from an investigation of RegPay, an Internet billing company in Minsk, Belarus, that was charged with money laundering and providing credit-card billing services for 50 child-pornography Web sites worldwide.

Ms. Zuieback said that having dismantled the leadership of the RegPay enterprise, ICE special agents have focused on those who purchased child-pornography subscriptions from the sites.

Nearly 200 people, she said, since have been arrested in the United States, and foreign law-enforcement officials acting on ICE leads have arrested more than 900 others in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

The RegPay investigation resulted in guilty pleas by two officers of Connections USA, a Florida firm that processed RegPay’s U.S. credit-card transactions, and two guilty pleas by persons affiliated with LB Systems, Inc., a California firm that helped RegPay process credit-card transactions.

RegPay officials suspected of organizing and carrying out the enterprise have been arrested and, according to Ms. Zuieback, are being extradited to the United States for prosecution.

Some of the Internet subscribers caught in the investigation include public- and private-school employees, including teachers, administrators, priests, coaches, bus drivers, campus ministers and janitors.

Law-enforcement agencies have arrested camp counselors, pediatricians, a circus clown, Boy Scout leaders, police officers, firefighters and others with direct access to children or who held positions of trust.

Ms. Zuieback said some of those arrested also were found to have been involved in the production and distribution of child pornography.

The investigation, called “Falcon,” is part of Operation Predator, a national initiative aimed at protecting young people from sexual predators.

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