Charges were announced Wednesday against 27 people in the United States, Canada, Australia and Great Britain in connection with an Internet chat room allegedly used to trade child porn and view real-time child molestation.
The accused allegedly exchanged videos of live molestation, or what authorities are calling “molestation on demand.”
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who appeared at a news conference in Chicago, said seven victims were identified, one of them less than 18 months old.
Gonzales said the images, sent through a peer-to-peer network, represented "the worst imaginable forms of child pornography."
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents infiltrated the ring during the last year and began making arrests last week, the sources told NBC.
Thirteen of the suspects are charged in the United States.
The Associated Press said that arrests were made in Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.
The chat room, called “Kiddypics and Kiddyvids,” allowed users to share pictures and video.
Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, appeared with Gonzales and said the trade in child pornography has expanded with the emergence of new technology.
There is more "home-grown child pornography" she said, and more new victims, with video and photographs shared on-line.
ICE took part in the investigation because the case involved cross-border crimes.