CRYPTOCURRENCIES

South Korean operator of BTC-linked child porn ring faces US extradition

A U.S. extradition process over the South Korean operator of a child exploitation ring has begun, in a landmark enforcement action.

South Korean resident Son Jong-woo faced extradition to the United States on charges related to the Welcome to Video site, described as “the largest child sexual exploitation market by volume of content.”

The 24-year-old has just completed an 18-month prison sentence in connection with the site, but remains in detention pending his extradition to the U.S., the Korea Herald reported.

In a hearing at the Seoul High Court, representatives for Son demanded guarantees that he will not face charges in the U.S. for crimes he has already been punished for in South Korea. The court is due to give its verdict on the U.S. Department of Justice extradition request in the next two months.

Son was arrested back in 2018 after investigations by the South Korean authorities, alongside U.S. and British law enforcement. Later that year, he was sentenced to 18 months in prison in connection with producing and circulating images of child sexual abuse.

Similar charges were levied in the U.S., with Son indicted on nine charges of nine charges, including money laundering and conspiracy, as well as producing, advertising and distributing child pornography.

Son allegedly began collecting digital currency payment for access to his exploitation images in 2015, with some 400 million won in digital currency connected to the ring.

Under double jeopardy laws in South Korea, only the charges related to money laundering were brought into consideration at the hearing.

If Son is extradited to the U.S., he faces up to 20 years in prison. Also accused of concealing criminal proceeds in South Korea, Son is also facing an additional five years in South Korea, or a fine of up to KRW30 million. 

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