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, who is an Irish and US national, was arrested in Ireland in 2013 and extradited to the US six years later.
According to prosecutors, the 36-year-old created and operated computer servers on the dark web for a period of five years from 2008 to 2013, which enabled users to anonymously access millions of images and videos depicting the rape and 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 requested the judge sentence him to 21 years instead, as he had served eight years between Ireland and the US already, but this was rejected.
Once he serves his sentence at a US federal prison, he will be able to return back home to Dublin.
According to a court filing, investigators had identified Marques as the largest purveyor of child abuse images worldwide and that he earned $3.6 million from his activities.
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His lawyers said his earnings were from his legitimate web-hosting services, and not those on 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.
In addition to his prison sentence, he was also ordered to pay $87,000 to victims of the images that he helped distribute.
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.”
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