Internet’s worst pedophile abruptly shuts down his ‘PedoEmpire’

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Known only as Lux, the anonymous man shut down his network of almost a dozen websites that he proudly called PedoEmpire. 

One of the most infamous pedophiles and hosts of child abuse and rape pornography abruptly retired today, marking the end of an era for one of the most extreme and reviled corners of the Deep Web.

Known only as Lux, the anonymous man shut down his network of almost a dozen websites that he proudly called PedoEmpire. The reasons, he wrote, were due to an unspecified “personal issues which my close friends have been made aware of that have forced me to make this decision.”

The shutdown, which was first reported on Deep Dot Web, comes nearly three years after Lux was first introduced to the world of Deep Web child abuse via posts on 4chan, the controversial imageboard.

From its founding, PedoEmpire has used powerful Tor anonymizing software to protect the identity of its thousands of users. While other major illegal pornography websites were knocked offline by law enforcement or hacktivists, PedoEmpire persisted despite constant pressure and death threats to its founder and members.

Lux began his Deep Web journey in 2011 when the hacktivist group Anonymous launched #OpDarkNet in an effort to knock some of the biggest child abuse websites offline. The operation was promoted heavily on 4chan in particular, calling all members to help the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that would, it was hoped, kill the child porn sites for good.

Although the operation gained worldwide press and the child porn sites went dark, the victory was brief. The sites that were targeted returned within hours and grew many times over thanks in part to the attention they received. Additionally, the 4chan posts led Lux to discover the numerous pedophile forums that exist on the Deep Web. Before long, he said he was “hooked.”

“At first I felt ashamed in myself for being attracted to such a thing,” he told the Daily Dot, “but as time went on I slowly grew more accepting of myself. It wasn’t until I came across the Tor pedo community that I was able to truly feel comfortable with attractions.”

Lux’s most notorious website, known as “Hurt 2 the Core,” was built to be the home of a subculture known as HurtCore, a genre of pornography that is exactly what the name suggests. HurtCore exalts in violent and real depictions of rape and sexual assault often including, in Hurt 2 the Core’s case, children of all ages.

“‘Hurt 2 the Core’ is the only site that is advertised for hurtcore [on the Hidden Wiki],” an anonymous pedophile said in an interview with the Daily Dot, describing a directory of Deep Web sites. “A few other sites may tolerate it to a limited extent, but most of the community hates anyone who hurts kids, and shuns those who have fantasies about doing so.”

In 2013, the FBI shut down Freedom Hosting, a service it called the “largest facilitator of child porn on the planet.” Lux, who initially used Freedom Hosting for all of his website, moved his self-styled empire to its own personal hosting. Eventually, he built anonymous image-sharing services, video streaming, chat rooms, forums, and even a hosting service designed to replace the fallen Freedom Hosting.

The launch of PedoEmpire began in earnest in early 2013, when Lux became vocally dissatisfied with the state of the Deep Web pedophile world. He chafed under the rules of another popular pedophile forum that forbade HurtCore and launched his own counter websites to allow “complete freedom,” he said.

Another anonymous pedophile forum user emailed me a selection of some of the most popular threads on Hurt2TheCore threads from last year. It’s sickening stuff, with titles like “Producing kiddie porn for dummies” and “Need ideas for blackmailed girl.”

Lux isn’t a fan of hurtcore, rape, beastiality, and most of the other kinks often seen on H2TC, he claimed to the Daily Dot, but he trumpets his users’ freedom above all else. He has markedly less concern  for the freedom of the actual children in the porn, it seems, although he believes that most members are only describing fantasies and would “never dream of doing such acts in real life.”

“If anyone had ever done such a thing to any of the kids I know, I would put a bullet in their head,” he told me in an email. “Given that, I still think that people who have interest in such things should have a place where they’re able to voice their opinions and desires.”

Lux, who describes himself as a “strong believer in free speech,” quickly became one of the most-hated men in the Deep Web. One year ago, the whole of PedoEmpire was serving of tens of thousands of multimedia downloads every day, Lux reported. Hurt 2 the Core reported an average of 326 accounts registered and 160 posts made every day. There is no way to verify those stats.

“Oh,” Lux said, adding one more stat to the list, “and about a dozen death threats every week. They’re always fun!”

Lux’s retirement did not come as a shock to at least some members of the Deep Web pedophile community. An anonymous source told Deep Dot Web that Lux had been acting “weird” over the past month, including changing identities and not responding to messages from his websites’ users.

Lux’s PedoEmpire is but one piece of a much larger Deep Web pedophile community. 

Although he was highly visible, Lux’s departure won’t put much of a dent into what can only be described as the vast underbelly of Deep Web child abuse. Still, many are dancing on his grave, including other pedophiles and Deep Web users who vocally resent the fact that they share anonymous cyberspace with pedophiles and illegal pornographers.

For his part, Lux left abruptly and without many clues as to why.

“As always, all Empires eventually fall and today is the day that the PedoEmpire falls,” Lux wrote. “I don’t like long awkward farewells, so… Goodbye.”

H/T Deep Dot Web | Photo by dno1967b/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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