Eric Eoin Marques, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to advertise child pornography on the dark web
A sicko described as the kingpin of child pornography has been jailed for 27 years.
Eric Eoin Marques, 36, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Ireland, operated a web hosting service that was a digital supermarket for pedophiles around the planet, allowing them to share millions of images of children being tortured and sexually abused.
Marques was arrested eight years ago in Dublin as part of a joint FBI and Garda operation but fought extradition until he was returned to the U.S. in 2019.
Authorities said Marques hosted more than 200 websites on dark web servers. It was estimated he had distributed more than 8.5 million photos and videos of child sex abuse between 2008 and 2013.
Some of the twisted images featured infants and toddlers and involved a mind-boggling array of abuse.
He pleaded guilty in February 2020 to conspiracy to advertise child pornography on the dark web and was sentenced Wednesday.
“Eric Marques was one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world,” said Jonathan Lenzner, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, where the case was prosecuted.
“This is an egregious case where one individual facilitated the abuse of more than a million new child victims and attempted to keep the abuse hidden on the dark web.”
FBI investigators began probing Marques after they discovered more than one million files from websites hosted on his Freedom Hosting server. The server was hidden in an encrypted area of the web, allowing users to remain anonymous — and untraceable.
The stomach-churning files had images and videos of children engaged in sexually explicit conduct with adults and other children, mostly under 12. Around two million images and videos had been previously unknown to cops.
According to the Associated Press, he apologized to the victims and expressed remorse.
“I have destroyed my reputation and my family’s reputation. Please give me a second chance,” he told U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang.