Man Behind World’s Largest Source of Child Abuse Images Jailed for 27 Years | US News
A man described by US authorities as the world’s most prolific provider of child sexual abuse images at the time of his arrest in Ireland has been sentenced to 27 years in federal prison.
Eric Eoin Marques, 36, created and operated computer servers on the dark web that allowed users to anonymously access millions of illegal images and videos, many of which depicted the rape and torture of infants. and toddlers. Law enforcement had never seen many of the footage before finding it on Marques’ servers, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang told Marques his crimes were the equivalent of those of a drug lord. “This crime was truly despicable,” Chuang said.
Before learning of his sentence, Marques apologized to the victims and asked for mercy in court. “I destroyed my reputation and that of my family. Please give me a second chance, ”he told Chuang.
The judge agreed to recommend that the Federal Bureau of Prisons recognize Marques for the eight years he has spent in custody in Ireland and the United States since his arrest in 2013. The judge also ordered him to pay restitution of 87 $ 000 to the victims of the child abuse images he helped disseminate.
Department of Justice Prosecutor Ralph Paradiso said Marques has created an online community for sexual predators to anonymously abuse and exploit children and share the gruesome images they have created.
“They all got together and they sexually exploited children,” he said. “They reveled in this sexual exploitation. “
Marques has dual American and Irish citizenship and could return to Ireland following his conviction. “There is no one in this courtroom who is not repelled by what happened in this case,” said Deputy Federal Public Defender Brendan Hurson, one of Marques’ attorneys. “He won’t do it again, and he feels remorse for what he did.” “
Marques pleaded guilty in February 2020 to creating and operating a web hosting service called “Freedom Hosting” on the darknet between 2008 and 2013. The darknet is part of the Internet but is hosted in an encrypted network. It is only accessible through tools ensuring anonymity.
Investigators found what appeared to be more than 8.5 million child sexual abuse images and videos on the Freedom Hosting server, according to a court record that accompanied Marques’ guilty plea.
Marques was living in Ireland at the time of the offenses. He was extradited to Maryland in March 2019. He pleaded guilty to conspiring to advertise child pornography.