More than a dozen people face charges in one of the largest child porn cases. Some 251 victims were targeted in 39 states and five countries -- including five teenage boys in Orange County.
"Operation Roundtable" delved into what federal officials call the darknet, tracking a Louisiana man who set up a subscription based website. Investigators liken the Internet to the new playground of predators.
The international child porn site was set up on the Tor network, a place designed for anonymity and untraceable information.
"What pedophiles have to understand is we're everywhere now," said Rob Abrams, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Authorities say pictures and videos of the teens were used in a bartering system -- among a worldwide network of 27,000 members.
"These images are then used as currency, essentially, for pedophiles," Abrams said. "That image can never be brought back. Their exploitation will continue in perpetuity."
More than a dozen men have been arrested from San Francisco to New York.
The investigation is ongoing.
The cameras and smart phones used to take the pictures contain forensic artifacts that could lead to its distributor, investigators said.
What disturbs authorities is how pedophiles target their victims.
In the scheme, a victim as young as 5 is told told to take his clothes off through an online chat -- and the victim will do it because he wants attention, officials said.
Officials say they have never located so many victims in a single investigation -- and that disturbs them too.
"Our victims are getting younger," Abrams said. "The activity is getting more and more graphic and more and more violent."