room. Members were initiated into the Orchid Club by relating their personal sexual abuse of a child. This is the first police found real-time online transmission of pictures of children being sexually molested and abused.67 At least eight children were molested in connection with the club.
Three USA members of the Orchid Club were sentenced to long prison terms68 Eventually, twenty men from twelve states were charged in the United States. The ring extended to Finland, Canada, and Australia. Nineteen of the defendants were given sentences ranging from 12 months to 30 years.69 Some of the members were untraceable because they used anonymous remailers, a system in which all transactions pass through a third-party computer that disguises the identity of the user.
The investigation identified three British men belonging to the Orchid Club. US Customs notified Sussex police in England, and their investigation led to a raid on a man’s home and the eventual discovery of the Wonderland Club. 70
In early September 1998 the world’s most sophisticated child pornography ring, to date, was brought down by one of the most far-reaching international police operations ever put together. The Wonderland Club, as it was called, had approximately 180 members in the United States, Australia, Norway, Italy, Portugal, Finland, France, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, and Great Britain.
Membership in the Wonderland Club was by invitation only. Candidates had to be nominated and approved. The criterion for membership was being in possession of at least 10,000 child pornographic images, with each image different from any in the possession of the other members. In a United States, based computer, a database of 100,000 pornographic images of children was found. The ring was composed of “very serious players,” some of whom were producing videos of children being sexually abused.71 Initially, 40,000 images were seized in the UK alone.
The Wonderland Club members used very sophisticated computer equipment and security systems. The network encrypted files with a code developed by the former KGB in the Soviet Union. 72
The police operation, code named Cathedral, was coordinated in London by a newly formed unit called the National Crime Squad. Interpol, US Customs and UK National Criminal Intelligence Service assisted in the organization of the simultaneous arrests. On the first day over 100 suspected predators in 12 countries were arrested. Police in Germany arrested 10 predators in raids in seven states. The raids indicated that 200 people were involved in making child pornographic videos for the Internet.73 In the initial sweep, there were 11 arrests in UK, 32 in the United States, 8 in Norway, 3 in Italy, and 5 in France. More arrests were made in the days that followed the initial crackdown.
The Netherlands Case
In July 1998, a European vigilante anti-pedophile group exposed an international child pornography ring. The ring was found to be operating in the Netherlands, Germany, the United States, Israel and Russia. Around 9,000 images were found in the Zandvoort, Netherlands apartment of formerly convicted pedophile, Gerrie Ulrich, who was murdered in Italy, possibly by his business partner, and partner in the child pornography