Four Floridians have been charged in connection with a child sexual abuse material (CSAM) subscription service that produced millions of images and videos of sexualized minors.
International Florida-based business Newstar Enterprise, which was founded in 2005, built, maintained, hosted, and operated what appeared to be a series of legitimate child modeling websites called Newstar Websites on servers based in the US and abroad.
According to court documents, Newstar was in reality “an internet-based business aimed at for-profit sexual exploitation of vulnerable children under the guise of ‘child modeling’.”
Some of the images and videos sold via the Newstar Websites showed children as young as 6 years old in sexual and provocative poses, wearing police and cheerleader costumes, revealing swimsuits, pantyhose and miniskirts, thong underwear, and transparent underwear.
Though the images and videos did not depict any minor as completely nude, some of the children were shown engaging in sexually explicit conduct.
“To populate the Newstar Websites with content, Newstar Enterprise members sourced, enticed, solicited and recruited males and females under the age of 18, some of whom were prepubescent, to use as ‘child models’ for the Newstar Websites,” said the Department of Justice in a statement.
“Using the recruited child-victims, the Newstar Enterprise produced more than 4.6 million sexualized images and videos to distribute and sell on the Newstar Websites.”
The websites attracted users from 101 different countries. Some images were provided free, while other content was unlocked by paying a subscription fee.
More than $9.4m in income was generated by the websites. Newstar Enterprise employees fraudulently opened merchant and bank accounts in the United States, using a bogus jewelry company to launder the proceeds.
Investigators found most of the children pictured on the site were recruited from Eastern Europe.
Weston resident 58-year-old Kenneth Power was charged with conspiracy to advertise child pornography and conspiracy to distribute child pornography, but the case against him was dismissed following his death on March 9.
Power’s wife, 41-year-old Tatiana Power, was charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, international promotion money laundering, and concealment money laundering.
Patrice Eileen Wilowski-Mevorah, 53, of Tampa, and Mary Lou Bjorkman, 58, of Lutz, pleaded guilty to laundering money for Newstar Enterprise.