Hundreds of people were arrested worldwide when law enforcement officials were able to knock out a dark web child pornography site that was based in South Korea. The site was responsible for selling gruesome videos in exchange for digital currency.

A sign is now splashed on the homepage of “Welcome to Video” to say that the site was seized as part of a law enforcement operation. It was done under the cooperation of the Republic of Korea, Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

The website used bitcoin currency as a way to help people access over 250,000 videos depicting sexual abuse of children, including young children being raped. The upload page stated specifically not to upload “adult porn.”

Brian A. Benczkowski, the US Assistant Attorney General, identified that Darknet sites that profit from sexually exploiting children are of the most reprehensible and vile forms of criminal behavior.

Officials have been able to rescue at least 23 underage victims throughout Britain, Spain, and the United States who were being abused by site users according to the Justice Department. Many children found in the videos have not been identified as of yet.

Nearly half of the images within the vast library of the website have never been seen by law enforcement. Authorities are saying this illustrates the amount of sexual abuse content exploding online. Britain’s National Crime Agency said officials saw an increase in complexity, severity, and skill throughout the video content.

The operator of the website, a South Korean resident named Jong Woo Son, along with 337 users across 12 countries, have been charged as of right now. Son is currently serving an 18-month prison sentence in South Korea and has also been indicted on federal charges in Washington.

Others who have been charged in the case have been convicted, some with sentences of 15 years based on information provided by the US Justice Department.

“Welcome to Video” is one of the first websites of its kind to use bitcoin to monetize child pornography. The problem with this is that users are able to hide their identities when making financial transactions. Digital currency is redeemed for points, making it possible to download videos or by VIP accounts that provide all you can watch opportunities. Points could also be earned by uploading a new child pornography content.

Don Fort, the chief of criminal investigation with the US Internal Revenue Service, identified these individuals as the bottom feeders of the criminal world. The IRS was the one that initiated the investigation.

The Justice Department estimates that at least $370,000 worth of bitcoin was collected by the site prior to it being taken down in March 2018. The currency was also laundered through multiple unnamed digital currency exchanges.

Darknet websites are designed to stay virtually undetectable online. It is unclear how authorities were able to locate and bring the website down. Various law enforcement organizations have varying narratives on the matter as to how they found out about the website and what was going on.

The investigation was triggered by a confidential source that tipped off the IRS. Meanwhile, the National Crime Agency of Britain said that they came across the website when investigating a British academic who pleaded guilty in October 2017 after blackmailing more than 50 people to send him depraved images that were shared online.

US officials, as well as officials around the globe, have been pushing tech firms to create solutions that would allow law enforcement to bypass encryption on apps such as iMessage and WhatsApp citing the child pornography epidemic as a primary reason to do so.

When it came to “Welcome to Video,” the website’s demise was that they didn’t have high-level encryption. Additionally, cryptocurrency transactions can be tracked – and many people believe that bitcoin is fully anonymous, which has been the downfall of those involved in shady activities once something is being fully investigated.

While there were over 300 people brought up on charges as it relates to their participation on the website, not all have been charged as of yet. Still, this marks a huge victory to remove child pornography from the web while also rescuing the victims who have been involved.

If investigators from around the globe can convince tech companies to provide a work-around with the encryption, it will make it possible to take down even more websites around the dark web so that sex trafficking and sex abuse can be minimized throughout the US, Europe, and elsewhere in the world.