The trail of an international child-porn ring led to a tiny house in the woods outside St. Louis

This excellent article by journalist John H. Tucker appeared in a St. Louis paper, the Riverfront Times, last year. It’s well-worth reading and illustrates how Internet technology facilitates the spread of criminal child pornography networks to even the smallest towns and villages.

The newspaper’s cover story provided an account of the FBI’s recent dismantling of “Lost Boy,” an international, members-only online bulletin board operated by about three dozen child pornographers. The federal crackdown represented, at the time (in 2009), the largest disruption of a child exploitation enterprise since that federal statute was signed into law in 2006.

The FBI built its case in Los Angeles before spreading across the country and world, spinning off into several related FBI investigations — including the one in Missouri, where authorities arrested a man producing material later discovered on the Lost Boy bulletin board. A District judge recently sentenced him to 100 years in prison.

The story begins:

Tucked like a thumbprint inside a bend in the Meramec River, Miramiguoa Park is a remarkably secluded piece of real estate. Surrounded on three sides by the river, the sparsely populated — 127 residents at last count — 200-acre village guards its landward flank with the entirety of Meramec State Park, whose woodlands and bluffs stretch south and west through the Franklin County Ozarks. Only about 50 miles from downtown St. Louis as the crow flies, Miramiguoa is half again more distant to reach by car. To get there one must stay on Interstate 44 all the way to Sullivan, then exit and double back through five miles of state forestland. At winter’s dusk, the leafless trees on the hilltops cast jagged silhouettes against the pale sky, and you might catch a smoky whiff of recently chopped timber.

Read the entire story here. It is an eyeopening case study of how child pornography networks operate across the globe.

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