A Bulgarian national used child modeling to disguise an operation to advertise and distribute child pornography, the Justice Department alleges. File Photo by Carolyn Kaster/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A Bulgarian national used a child modeling agency to disguise an operation to advertise and distribute child pornography, the Justice Department said Monday.
Plamen Georgiev Velinov of Sofia, Bulgaria, was convicted by a federal jury of conspiracy to advertise and distribute images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of young children, a press release by the department said.
The 49-year-old is accused of using "a collection of websites called the Newstar Websites," to operate a business that exploited children. The operation ran from at least 2006 to 2019.
Velinov's role included selecting vulnerable children, editing images and videos, marketing, customer relations and advertising of the illicit materials, authorities allege.
Velinov received at least $400,000 in his bank account in Bulgaria from co-conspirators in the United States, Justice Department officials said. He is the sixth co-conspirator in the Newstar operation to be charged.
More than 4.6 million images and videos were distributed through the websites. They featured children as young as 6, both male and female, in "sexual and provocative poses." Most of the children were recruited from Ukraine, Moldova and other Eastern European nations.
A large ratio of the children were described as "prepubescent."
The Newstar websites had subscribers in about 100 countries and generated more than $9.4 million, authorities said, adding that funds were laundered through a phony jewelry business in the United States.
Velinov faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 18.
Law enforcement and investigative agencies from the United States, the Netherlands, Holland, and Bulgaria cooperated to bring charges against the co-conspirators.