(AP)-- Investigators have broken an international child pornography ring that produced and distributed sexually explicit images of babies and toddlers online, federal prosecutors in Indianapolis said Thursday.
Seven men have been convicted and sentenced on various charges in the case, while two who pleaded guilty are awaiting sentencing, the U.S. attorney's office said. Three were sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Indianapolis.
"This operation uncovered a dangerous and depraved group of criminals who were devoted to trading sexually explicit images of children under the age of five," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Larry Breuer said in the statement.
More than 20 suspects from nine states have been captured, and authorities are investigating more suspects in the U.S., Sweden, Serbia, the Netherlands, and the U.K.
"As a result of this 18-month operation, more than two dozen children here in Indiana and across the globe have been rescued from their tormentors," First Assistant U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said.
Operation Bulldog came to light in November 2010 with the arrest of David Bostic, 26. Federal, state and local investigators raided Bostic's home in Bloomington, Ind., and found hundreds of images and videos on his computer of children between the ages of two months and 4 years engaged in sexual acts. He was subsequently convicted on 65 counts and sentenced to 315 years in prison.
The arrest of Bostic led investigators to others in the group.
Shawn Kuykendall, 32, of Summerville, S.C., was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years, while 23-year-old Javahn Algere, of Louisiana, got 12 years and 21-year-old Richard Szulborski, of Pennsylvania, was sentenced to a 15-year term.
Sentenced earlier were Bostic; Danny L. Druck, 58, of Kentucky, eight years; Chris Reid, 37, of Saginaw, Mich., 35 years; Todd King, 41, of California, eight years.
Nicholas King, 28, of Washington, and 22-year-old Jeremy Labrec, of Texas, have pleaded guilty and await sentencing, prosecutors said.
"Child pornography rings pose a threat to children around the world and we will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who participate in such groups," Breuer said.
Tim Horty, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Indianapolis, said additional suspects were being prosecuted in other U.S. districts. He said investigators were working with authorities in several states and overseas.
The case was a result of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide Department of Justice initiative to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse.