GREENBELT, Md. (WJZ) — Officials announced that 36-year-old Eric Eoin Marques was sentenced to 27 years in federal prison followed by a lifetime of supervised release for conspiracy to advertise child pornography on the dark web.

According to authorities, millions of images of child exploitation material were found and removed from the hosting server.

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“Eric Marques was one of the largest facilitators of child pornography in the world,” said Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Jonathan F. Lenzner. “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. We are grateful to our law enforcement partners here and abroad for helping us to bring Eric Marques to justice. We will continue to do everything we can to find and prosecute those who use the anonymity of the Internet to perpetuate the cruel and heartless business of the sexual abuse of children for personal gain, in order to keep our children safe.”

Marques of Dublin, Ireland is a dual national citizen of the US. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 6, 2020, after being extradited by Irish authorities. Marques arrived in the US on March 23, 2019, to face federal charges filed in Maryland on Aug. 8, 2013.

According to his plea agreement, from July 24, 2008, until July 29, 2013, Marques conspired to advertise child pornography by operating a free, anonymous web hosting server on the dark web —  only accessible by means of special software which allows users and website operators to remain anonymous or untraceable.

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Officials said the defendant’s hosting service hosted websites that allowed users to view and share images documenting the sexual abuse of children, including the abuse of prepubescent minors, violent sexual abuse, and bestiality.

Further investigation revealed that the hosting service contained over 200 child exploitation websites that contained millions of images of child exploitation material. More than 1.97 million of these images and videos involved victims that were not previously known by law enforcement.

Officials said many of the images involved sadistic abuse of infants and toddlers to include bondage, bestiality and humiliation to include urination, defecation and vomit.

Marques admitted that this offense also involved the distribution of child pornography, which involved minors who were less than twelve years old including infants and toddlers and sadistic or masochistic material or depictions of violence.

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Marques also admitted that he willfully obstructed or impeded the administration of justice with respect to the investigation into this offense.

CBS Baltimore Staff