Computerized Child Porno Ring Broken


Mexican and U.S. investigators have broken up a high-tech child pornography business that distributed its materials via computer from this border city to thousands of subscribers in the United States and Canada, authorities said Friday.

The alleged organizer of the ring, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago area, is imprisoned in San Diego on federal charges of transportation of child pornography. Mexican police arrested him in Tijuana and deported him into the custody of U.S. Customs Service agents.

The international investigation originated in New Jersey early this year and led to the California border, where authorities from both nations are still seeking at least two more suspects, said Pedro Raul Vidal Rosas, the attorney general of Baja California.

“This agency has worked with North American authorities to resolve a difficult and inhuman case of explicit child pornography,” an indignant Vidal told reporters at a news conference, describing the ring as “a vile enterprise.”


The accused ringleader, 50-year-old Robert Copella, allegedly charged $250 per subscription--plus additional charges--to a computer bulletin board that transmitted hard-core pornographic photos through electronic mail or other digital means, authorities said. There were at least 2,000 subscribers who paid for images of sex acts involving young children and even babies, authorities said.

After a warrant was issued for Copella’s arrest in Chicago last year, authorities said, he fled to Tijuana.

Computerized international enterprises have become increasingly common because they are lucrative and hard to detect.