|This article needs to be updated. (November 2010)|
Operation FastLink is a coordination of four separate, simultaneous undercover investigations by the FBI, the FBI Cyber Division, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the Criminal Division and Interpol. The four different investigations have not been publicly enumerated, but the U.S. Department of Justice has said in at least one press release that "Operation Higher Education" is the largest component, with participation from twelve nations. Mention has also been made of an investigation into pre-release music groups led by FBI agents from the Washington Field Office. As of March 6, 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation states that Operation FastLink has yielded 60 convictions. The raids occurred in similar fashion to those from Operation Buccaneer and Operation Site Down. Other somewhat-related law enforcement actions include Operation Gridlock and Operation D-Elite.
The operation led to the successful busts of nearly 100 individuals involved in illegal copying of copyrighted software (i.e. "software piracy"), and alterations thereof, worldwide. There were around 120 total searches executed in 27 states and in 10 foreign countries. Foreign searches were conducted in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden as well as Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Among the prolific warez release groups targeted by Fastlink were Fairlight, Kalisto, Echelon, Class, and DEViANCE - all of which specialized in spreading unlicensed copies of computer and console video games. Recent convictions have included members of music release groups Apocalypse Production Crew and Chromance.
- Jathan Desir, 26, (aka jd333) (a University of Iowa student) of Iowa City, Iowa, pleaded guilty on December 22, 2004 to charges related to his role and faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, 5 years for each of the 3 counts of copyright infringement, when he is sentenced on September 30, 2005. This was the first conviction stemming from Operation Fastlink. Sentencing was originally scheduled for March 18, 2005, but the defendant filed an unopposed motion to continue sentencing until June. The judge then later postponed the sentencing further due to "a change in the court's schedule". On July 26, 2005, the judge ordered all the computer-related material seized in the original raid to be forfeited, as agreed to by Desir in his plea bargain. The case is 4:04-cr-00336 from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa.
- Abell (a.k.a. "joebob") pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement on February 28, 2005. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison, 400 hours of community service and two years probation. The case is 5:04-cr-00681 from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
- Lai (a.k.a. "doplgnger") pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on January 6, 2006 related to his administering several warez FTP sites. He was sentenced on June 18, 2007 to three years of probation, the first six months of which he must serve confined to his home. He was also ordered to pay a fine in the amount of $7200 and to perform 120 hours of community service. The case is 3:06-cr-00004 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
- Kleinberg (a.k.a. "basilisk") pleaded guilty on March 8, 2005 and faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Sentencing was originally scheduled for July 1, 2005, but has been delayed to January 6, 2006. He admitted to being a supplier for Fairlight and Kalisto while being Executive Editor of Game Over Online Magazine. The case is 3:05-cr-00049 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Kleinberg eventually received a reduced sentence of 3 years probation, 200 hours of community service and was ordered to pay a $15,000 fine. .
- Jeffrey Lerman (a.k.a. "ht"), 20, a University of Maryland, College Park student from Long Island, New York, pleaded guilty on March 8, 2005 and was sentenced to six months of house arrest, three years probation, and a $7500 fine. Lerman repackaged and restructured PlayStation 2 games, originally distributed on DVDs, for redistribution on CDs for Kalisto. The case is 3:05-cr-00050 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
- Albert Bryndza, 32, of Flushing, New York, pleaded guilty on March 8, 2005 and faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison. Sentencing was originally scheduled for July 1, 2005, but has been delayed to January 13, 2006. The case is 3:05-cr-00051 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
- Weiss pleaded guilty on September 12, 2005 to criminal copyright infringement. Sentenced on January 12, 2006 to three years probation, pay $20,914 in restitution, and complete 500 hours of community service. Unknown case from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
- Ringe was indicted for criminal copyright infringement on September 13, 2005. Unknown case from the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.
- Christopher M. Streit was originally indicted on a criminal copyright infringement charge in the Southern District of Iowa. On March 10, 2005, his case was transferred to the Eastern District of North Carolina. He pleaded guilty on April 11, 2005 and was sentenced to five years probation, 180 days of home confinement, and imposed a 500 dollar fine on September 6, 2005. The case is 5:05-cr-00066 from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
- Joseph J. Huss, Jr., pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement on July 28, 2005. He was sentenced to five years probation, a $200 special assessment, and a $5,000 fine for each of the counts on November 10, 2005. The case is 2:05-cr-00002 from U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Timothy Mentzer's three criminal copyright infringement charges were transferred from the Southern District of Iowa. He pleaded guilty on August 3, 2005. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 19, 2006. The case is 2:05-cr-00002 from U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- George Scott Hayes, 31, of Danville, Virginia, pleaded guilty on February 13, 2006 to one count of criminal copyright infringement related to his involvement in music release group "Chromance." Sentencing is scheduled for May 19, 2006. The case is 1:06-cr-00032 from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Derek A. Borchardt (a.k.a. 'Mickey'), 21, of Charlotte, North Carolina, Ramiesh Yogarada, 18, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Matthew B. Howard, 24, of Longmont, Colorado, and Aaron O. Jones, 31, of Hillsboro, Oregon each pleaded guilty on February 28, 2006 to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement for their involvement in the music release group aPOCALYPSE_pRODUCTION_cREW (aPC). Sentencing is scheduled for May 19, 2006. The case is 1:06-cr-00041 from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.
- Sergey Ribiakost, 21, of Bardonia, New York, pleaded guilty on April 17, 2007 to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement for his involvement with the music release group aPOCALYPSE_pRODUCTION_cREW (aPC). Sentencing is scheduled for July 10, 2007. The case is in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
- Bryan Thomas Black, 30, of Waterloo, Illinois pleaded guilty on March 6, 2009 to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal infringement of a copyright for his involvement in a multinational software infringement organization. Sentencing is scheduled for May 26, 2009.
- "60th Felony Conviction Obtained in Software Piracy Crackdown "Operation Fastlink"". United States Department of Justice. March 6, 2009.
- Operation Fastlink Cracks Down on Warez, Slashdot. (April 22, 2004)
- U.S. Moves Against Online Pirates, Wired News / Associated Press. (April 22, 2004)
- US leads internet piracy raids, BBC News. (April 23, 2004)
- Feds convict warez pirate – article regarding Jathan Desir's conviction. C|NET News.com. (December 28, 2004)
- Anderson, Curt (2004-04-22). "Authorities crack down on Net piracy". USA Today.
- Justice Department Announces International Internet Piracy Sweep, US DoJ press release announcing operation (April 22, 2004)
- First ‘Operation Fastlink' Defendant Pleads Guilty to Online Software Piracy, US DoJ press release on Desir plea (December 22, 2004)
- Officials unseal piracy records - about Jathan Desir, first person prosecuted following the raid (December 24, 2004)
- First U.S. Convictions in Largest Ever Multinational Investigation of Internet Piracy, US DoJ press release on Kleinberg, Lerman, and Bryndzda guilty pleas (March 8, 2005)
- Justice Department Announces Four Pleas In Internet Music Piracy Crackdown, US DoJ press release on Borchardt, Howard, Jones, and Hayes guilty pleas (February 28, 2006)
- Two Defendants Plead Guilty in Internet Music Piracy Crackdown, US DoJ press release on Gomez and Ribiakost guilty pleas (April 20, 2007)
- Software Piracy Crackdown ‘Operation Fastlink’ Yields 50th Guilty Plea, US DoJ press release on Eaves guilty plea (May 14, 2007)