A man from Dublin who was in possession of more than 8.5million images of child abuse on the dark web has been sentenced to 27 years in prison.
Eric Eoin Marques (36), a US citizen and Irish national, was taken into custody in Ireland in 2013. He was then extradited to the US six year later.
According to prosecutors the 36-year-old was accused of operating computer servers on dark web for five years between 2008 and 2013. These servers allowed anonymous access to millions of images and videos that depicted the rape or torture of children.
US District Judge Theodore Chuang said Marques’s conduct was no different to that of a drug lord, the Independent reports.
The US justice department said that nearly 2 million of those images and videos “involved victims that were not previously known by law enforcement”.
“Many of these images involved sadistic abuse of infants and toddlers to include bondage, bestiality and humiliation to include urination, defecation and vomit,” the department explained.
Marques asked for a 21-year sentence instead of the eight years he had already served between Ireland and the USA. However, this request was denied.
After he finishes his sentence at the US federal prison, Marques will be eligible to return home to Dublin.
According to court filings, Marques was identified by investigators as the biggest purveyor of child exploitation images in the world and that he had earned $3.6million from his activities.
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His lawyers stated that his earnings came from legitimate web hosting services and not the dark web.
US attorney Jonathan Lenzner said Marques had caused “unspeakable damage” to children, some of whom were physically assaulted for the purposes of image sharing.
He was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $87,000 for victims of images he distributed.
Lenzner added: “This is the first case that I’m aware of where we went to the seeds of the trade, the main engine driving so much of the illegal child pornography trade globally.”