"Operation Round Table" uncovered victims in 39 states and five countries.
More than 250 victims, mostly boys between 13 and 15 years old from across the U.S., including the five in Orange County, were identified by federal agents. Four of the Orange County victims are from Anaheim and the fifth is from San Clemente.
Authorities say victims thought they were dealing with an attractive 18-year-old girl. They had no idea they were interacting with a 27-year-old man.
"These boys thought they were interacting with this girl, then he convinced them through that persona to create their own sexual videos for his use and to share with the network of like-minded individuals," said Claude Arnold, ICE special agent in charge.
So far federal authorities have charged 14 people in "Operation Round Table," one of the largest child exploitation investigations in the history of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
"The primary target of Operation Round Table was the administrator of a subscription-based website," said Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
ICE has identified the website administrator as Jonathan Johnson, a 27-year-old Louisiana man who was posing as a pretty 18-year-old girl. The child porn website, located on what's known as the Darknet's Onion Router, or "Tor," has free software that allows online anonymity.
"From 2012 to 2013, Johnson administered child pornography websites out of his home in order to distribute images and videos depicting sexual victimization of children," said Kenneth Polite Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
Authorities say nearly 30,000 members could view more than 2,000 videos through the website. While most of the victims were teenagers, investigators say several were 9 years old or younger.
"The message for parents is when you let your kids go on the Internet unsupervised, essentially you're letting them walk down a dark alley in a bad part of the city in the middle of the night. You don't know who's lurking out there," said Arnold. "There are bad people out there looking to victimize your children."