A man recognized as the world’s most significant source of child abuse imagery had been sentenced to 27 years behind bars on Wednesday, Sept. 15.
The purveyor, 36-year-old Eric Eoin Marques, was ordered to pay $87,000 in reparation to victims of the child pornography he distributed, and a lifetime of supervision after his release, the Associated Press reported.
According to the news agency, Marques is a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Ireland.
He set up and ran dark web computer servers that allowed users to view millions of illicit photos and videos of children anonymously.
Among the more than 8.5 million images of child pornography that officials were able to bust from his darknet were up to 2 million pictures authorities had never seen before, the AP reported back in May.
Justice Department prosecutor Ralph Paradiso said Marques’ system facilitated an entire community of sexual predators to indulge their behavior.
“They all got together and they sexually exploited children,” he said. “They reveled in that sexual exploitation.”
Those that appeared in the materials disseminated on Marques’ darknet included infants and toddlers, per AP, many of who were raped and tortured.
“This crime was truly despicable,” said U.S. District Judge Theodore Chuang, adding that what Marques committed was comparable to a drug lord.
“This is the first case that I’m aware of where we went to the seeds of the trade, the main engine driving so much of the illegal child pornography trade globally,” said acting U.S. Attorney Jonathan Lenzner.
Lenzner said because of his servers, Marques has done “unspeakable damage” to the child victims.
Judge Chuang declined the initial plea deal of 15 to 21 years in prison in May.
He acknowledged that Marques had been in custody since his arrest in Ireland and extradition to Maryland.
“It’s not going to be 21 minus 6 to 15. That’s not going to happen,” the judge said. “I don’t have to follow what you all did. It’s clear neither of you really understood what you were doing.”
Before Judge Chuang’s decision, Marques, who once said his business was “successful,” apologized to the victims and asked for mercy.
“I have destroyed my reputation and my family’s reputation. Please give me a second chance,” he told the judge.
Chuang said he hoped Marques would read the statements his victims had written.
“It is heartbreaking to see what has happened to these individuals,” the judge noted.
“There is no one in this courtroom who is not repulsed by what happened in this case,” said assistant federal public defender Brendan Hurson, one of Marques’ lawyers. “He will not do this again, and he is remorseful for what he has done.”