In an Arkansas courtroom, Judge Timothy L. Brooks sentenced a Springdale man to 96 months in federal prison for downloading and viewing child abuse content from dark web forums and other file sharing networks. The case made headlines for the usual reasons and, perhaps, for an unusual reason; the convicted pedophile stored child abuse content on an SD card in his Nintendo DS and made use of a “Pedophile Guide.”
James Daosaeng, 25, had downloaded nearly 15,000 pictures and videos depicting various forms of child abuse between late 2016 and his July 2017 arrest, according to information revealed in his plea agreement. On March 29, 2018, Daosaeng pleaded guilty to a single count of receiving child pornography. He entered his guilty plea in U.S. District Court in Fayetteville after coming to an agreement with prosecutors about the four remaining charges in the five-count indictment returned in January 2018.
Following an investigation by the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Arkansas authorities charged Daosaeng with one count of possession of child pornography and four counts of attempting to receive or having already received child pornography. An indictment, filed earlier this year, affirmed the charges. In the plea agreement, though, Arkansas prosecutors agreed—in exchange for Daosaeng’s guilty plea to receiving child pornography—to drop the four remaining charges at the sentencing hearing. And in late August, they kept their end of the deal. Judge Timothy L. Brooks accepted the plea agreement.
According to court documents, the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force identified a Springdale IP address that was making child abuse content accessible through eMule, a peer-to-peer file sharing program that utilizes the Kad and eD2k networks. As with other file sharing networks or protocols, such as BitTorrent, the public IP address used to access the Kad and eD2k networks is not masked or hidden. Users accessing illegal content (or on networks/in countries where peer-to-peer file sharing is prohibited) have to take additional steps in order to avoid detection by their internet service provider or law enforcement.
Daosaeng, not unlike the suspects in hundreds of similar cases where the careless use of a peer-to-peer file sharing program led to criminal charges, seemingly forgot to use something as simple as a VPN. With a properly configured VPN, for instance, an internet service provider with access to deep packet inspection equipment could identify file sharing traffic but they would not be able to identify the content or identifying data.
Daosaeng pulled into his driveway only moments after law enforcement had arrived at his house with a search warrant. As officers searched the house, agents with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force questioned Daosaeng. He admitted he had been downloading child abuse content from dark web sites since 2016. He also admitted that he had been both accessing it and sharing it through eMule. Daosaeng also have the law enforcement officers the passwords needed to access his computer. He provided all of the above information after being read his Miranda rights, court documents revealed.
On the laptop Daosaeng told Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force agents he had used to access child abuse sites on the darknet, investigators found 4,840 child abuse pictures and 268 videos. The pictures and videos featured children from “infant to 18-years-old.” Inside the folder titled “CP” on a SanDisk USB drive, investigators found another 8,900 pictures and 672 videos. All of the content on the USB drive fell under the legal definition of child pornography. The drive also had 11 folders for various categories of content, including “Torrent” and “Favorite CP.” He also stored a PDF file titled “Pedophile Guide” on the drive. On the Nintendo DS’ SD card, Daosaeng had only stored images, according to the plea agreement.
His eight year prison sentence will be followed by a lifetime on the sex offender registry and 20 years of supervised release.