Running scared: an international zoosadism ring evades investigation.

by Patch O'Furr

Content warning for animal abuse and sexual violence. Part 2 of a 5 part update about the Zoosadist chat leaks.

In September 2018, the furry fandom was shocked by news about zoosadists (people into rape, torture and murder of animals for their fetish). Part 1) looks at how their ring was exposed, the threat to events, and who is implicated. A focus on ring member Tane makes a thread through a tangled story. This part looks at their evasion.

One excuse for people caught associated with the ring is downplaying it as “just fantasy”. To deflect public anger, member Kero the Wolf claimed he just likes “feral art” — a handful of pictures in a mountain of animal abuse in their chat leaks. Euphemistic illusions are a way to beg tolerance in a fandom where weird interests have free expression. But furries have limits. So the extreme fringe members hide their tracks with alt accounts, encryption and codes.

It’s the week after Halloween in 2017, and Tane was just at PAWcon, a small event in San Jose, CA. Snakething has frightening news — associates in the UK are being arrested for illegal content. Snakething is reassuring about Telegram’s encryption, but Tane is spooked about the arrest of ring associate Cupid (from Part 1). Cupid was arrested because Snakething leaked an incriminating video of him to a friend. The police took his phone — can they trace content on it to others? Will more dominos fall? The chatting is subdued for weeks after, and Snakething has to owe favors and settle fears. Notice “SC” (Telegram’s Secret Chat that deletes after viewing), and the code “RLC” (real life cub).

Police on the job [October 2018-now]

The envelope was sealed and mailed with tracking to see when it arrived. It was a moment of hope. A year after Tane’s chat about Cupid and “RLC”, higher powers now had a hard drive of leaked evidence. It included lots of work by furries to hold their hands and point out what to investigate.

The police don’t waste time on wild goose chases for internet rumors. So far, there have been 3 arrests for real activity that came from the leaks:

  • SnakeThing (Levi Simmons) — arrested in Oregon for raping a puppy on video to share with the ring.
  • EliteKnight (Christian Stewart Nichols) — arrested in Florida for abusing his dog on video to share with the ring.
  • Woof (Ruben Pernas) — arrested in Cuba after a hunt to ID him for mutilating and killing animals for the ring.

Unfortunately (for now), Woof seems to be free because Cuba has no animal welfare laws. So the Cuban people hit the streets with public protest to ask their government for new laws because of him — an exceptional happening in a repressive country. There are claims that it’s the first officially-sanctioned, independently-organized, non government-associated protest in their nation’s history. I tried to get attention on the story with contacts at Vice and more, hoping that someone would cover a crime ring in furry fandom leaping to international notice. (A P.R. problem, or an opportunity to show what we care about?)

See Cuban protesters on the march below in a video about “Woof”.

Underground in Cuba

On 8/26/19, I got a voice message about the video from an activist who helps Cuban animals to be adopted internationally with groups like CEDA. There are mixed up details in the section about who worked in Cuba (from 8:00-10:30). Even so, the activist was grateful to helpers for doing what they can.

After ID was found for Ruben Pernas, an underground effort had to be made to locate and expose him. Nobody would believe them for a long time (much like publishing stories about Kero and others) until they gathered backing and Pernas was fired from his job. CEDA didn’t approach the Cuban government, but they rescued his dogs. The story can’t be easily told, and I’m reminded of the film Citizen X (about a hunt for a killer complicated by Soviet police beaurocracy.)

The difficulty was manifold. The story could embarrass the system. Speaking about police in a country like Cuba can have consequences like denial of travel. There are no animal shelters in Cuba — it’s handled by individuals who take strays off the streets if they can, and groups like CEDA who try to get fosters, with help from Animal Protectors. Records must be hard to get. Their work had to be done in silence for 2 months, in collaboration with quiet middle-people.

“The hard part is keeping something so horrible without being able to discuss it… Let me tell you this was the most difficult and heartbreaking situation I’ve ever had to deal with. I want to shine the light on the good that Cuba did by the arrest.” — (Contact to the middle-people.)

Free speech to openly discuss this story is a freedom to cherish.

Limits of laws, and a problem for a community.

When the first sirens died down, Snakething was let go. The animal abuse hadn’t been found in time to charge within short statutory time limits. Ring members including Woof are free to do more harm. But with the story out in public already, more attention can influence what happens next.

In furry fandom, talking on social media is one thing, but more focused work to get help can hit a wall. The Geek Social Fallacies lurk behind it. Backlash at “drama” means lazy insults to this volunteer for donating work that others don’t. Some say shut up and leave it to the cops, deferring to authority outside the community. You can find lots of balls in furry art, but where else?  (Look at Cubans on the street protesting to their authorities for a change.)

I think the police don’t manage a community. They come after things go wrong, and they can’t just arrest people for saying things that we know they do:

  • Animals don’t tell, while tech helps to cover up. (Corporations even profit from animal cruelty media they won’t regulate.)
  • Local police have low priority for cybercrime out of their area. Federals have bigger fish to fry (terrorism etc.), so animal abuse falls back to local police.
  • Outdated laws didn’t envision a ring like this, which skips jurisdictions, while bestiality isn’t illegal everywhere or regulated like child abuse. Videos circulate for years, but statutory limits make short times to solve crimes. The police may not waste effort if arresting ends up in dropped charges.

These limits blocked a New York police investigation into Kero the Wolf. His parents stonewalled them from comparing evidence of crime on their property (in a garage and campers) that was in abuse videos and Kero’s Beastforum posts. The statutory time limits ran out. Investigation continues in PA.

Only police may have certain power, but only insiders (or family) may be able to help them to use it. Detective work can take years, and a few arrests may not stop a ring. People like OJ Simpson get off charges (but not from personal, community or civil judgement). Interfering with police is a concern, but leaving it only to them can be negligent. Shining a light matters when predators prey in the shadows. There’s no “witch hunt” for witches right next to you.

Running scared [September 2018]

Back to the fandom impact right when the leaks reached the public. I had to guess why lots of people were coming out of the woodwork in my messages with weird intentions. What do you think is going on when I get contacted unprompted, about people I don’t know, to deny things I didn’t bring up? It gives a strong impression of fear and coverup of many wider ties. I heard from:

  • Kero the Wolf — Told me his excuse about being hacked. It was unbelievable and I told him to stop, get a lawyer and go dark. Kero eventually admitted that he did lie to me and thousands of fans with a downloaded screenshot of “hacker” activity (source 2) that he told me came from his device. But he still wanted it both ways as if mystery hackers wrote the bad messages in his name, and he only wrote a small part that couldn’t get him in much trouble.
  • Saito Fox — Contacted me on behalf of Kero with the same story (and fake screenshot) at nearly the same time. He was very close to RC Fox (who killed himself on the day he was facing conviction for child porn charges,) according to RC Fox’s friend Pakyto who traded zoosadist porn with Snakething. Saito turned up in the logs for running a zoophile group for Midwest Furfest, where Snakething tried to hook them up with animal owners. What a tangle.
  • Defenders and friends of people in the ring — some with fandom popularity — threw fits when I wouldn’t buy the hacking excuse, or wanted to debate that zoophiles being underground are like gays forced to meet in secret in the 1950’s (a reminder of gay rights dissociating from a fringe of pedophiles trying to ride their coattails.) They were clearly whispering in angry private circles because I got tagged into this.
  • Leko — a local furry who I knew in person (and didn’t know was a partner of Tane) started a new thread to follow.

A cover story, and authenticating the logs 

Tane’s partner tells a story that isn’t consistent with the chat logs and other corroborating details.

Leko claims that Tane was in the ring to set the other person up for the police, but there wasn’t enough evidence to make a case. Leko says he isn’t one of those “demented perverts”, just a normal one (so it’s just fantasy, but the chats are real?) The chats are excused for having no illegal content, only commonly available files — but it doesn’t explain all the file removals from Tane’s logs, and something even more inconsistent.

Files in the chat leaks DID cause arrests. There was no help from Tane, according to the leakers, and he failed to report evidence. In 2017, when Tane received Snakething’s 2016 puppy rape video, it wouldn’t have been too late to get him charged. Holding it let the statutory time limits decay until he got away with it in 2018. (Leko sent the claims before Snakething’s arrest made them inconsistent.)

Kero claimed to be targeted by hackers. Woof confessed and EliteKnight confirmed. Glowfox claimed the logs were “out of context”. Tane claimed a self-made police sting (supported by nothing else.) The stories didn’t line up or win benefit of the doubt for anyone. At least Tane’s is based on the logs being real.

Second corroboration

I went beyond Leko’s claims to corroborate the Telegram logs. When the chats leaked, Tane locked his Twitter and switched usernames with another account. But first, a source with access provided a screenshot dump of the timeline. I painstakingly traced how his Tweets synched with his private messages.

Both sources have info the other doesn’t, such as photos matching text, and location info original to the Telegram logs that couldn’t be seen in public posts. Other Twitter accounts only tie in by roundabout research (such as tracing user location) that won’t make sense if simply faked in text, showing one source isn’t just based on the other. They weave together at synch points like this one, from Tane’s trip to a zoophile meet on a farm in Nebraska.

Triple check: Why wasn’t even more evidence brought to the police?

Leko claimed Tane was in the chats, but didn’t have enough evidence to go to police. (Part 4 will link a detailed breakdown of the chats with over 650 screenshots.)

But Tane received original videos of animal abuse from Snakething. He claimed to do animal sex tourism and helped hook up other ring members. Explained how to drug (roofie) drinks at cons. Targeted Nachodoggo for rape, and was told of a plan to molest a child. Didn’t seek ID to help targets in danger, and used Secret Chat to hide evidence at his request. THIS was a “setup?”

I still went out of the way to check. Leko had said they were preparing a statement together to own up to some things and explain the police claims. In September 2019, I got in touch before publishing, and offered an opportunity to clear things up and give their side, like Tane offered on his Twitter.  I sent questions:

  • What records were gathered for reporting to police?
  • Why wasn’t it enough evidence to give them?
  • How did Tane gather records when he asked to use Secret Chat?
  • Is he willing to explain the details of specific plans and files that were traded and discussed?
  • Is he willing to ID specific places and people named in the chats? Will any of them back this up?
  • What effort was made to get ID for cases of imminent harm?
  • How did he cooperate in the arrests of Levi Simmons, Christian Nichols, and Ruben Pernas (Snakething, Eliteknight, and Woof)? Will anyone back this up?
  • Will he do a video interview?

There was no reply by publishing time. I look forward to more info. Until then, the logs can speak for themselves. They’re very informative for how Tane fit in the ring and how it worked. From not even knowing who he was at first — and even being asked for favors about him — I had a fresh start to investigate without personal bias, and every detail I found matches this report.

A job for a team of one [October 2018]

The story until now has looked at who was in the ring, the limits for police, confusion and dodging, and the horrifying content instead of euphemistic “fantasy”. Then there was a big job to sort info for further action. It needed a team, so I gathered a small one. Members read Tane’s logs and reacted:

Tane’s awful. He talked for 15 HTML files. And he’s on the list of people into real life cub…’with experience’. There’s no images… because Tane’s an infosec guy. He moves to secret chat a number of times. It’s hard to summarize all of the terrible things Tane does/says. None of this is “He’s sorry for what he’s done and is seeking therapy and professional help to stop the behavior entirely.” Just “Please bury his guilt so we can keep doing what we’re doing without anyone knowing or confronting us”… There’s no fucking way he needed to prove (Snakething)’s guilt for that long. If he was attempting to play undercover cop, he went about it in the worst possible way… and never actually did anything with the info.

Like, if he wants to play that angle, he’d better have receipts of actually talking to police. The undercover cop story sounds about as believable as the being hacked story… an actual agent wouldn’t send messages on a self-destruct timer. Because it’d make their case a lot harder to prove. And Tane was the one who pushed that, not (Snakething). Any mole wants info to be as archived as long as possible. Tane actively took steps to do the opposite.

Other groups gathered and were infested by trolls, moles and misinformation, making it a minefield to work with others. It needed full time staff, but that doesn’t exist in fandom. Detaching from agendas meant doing it alone. Without more resources, it’s taken a year to investigate and report more.

Complicity by silence

A lot of the community would rather “see no evil” than know more. The path of least resistance would be shutting up and letting someone else do it… maybe nobody, while we wait for help that never comes.

That’s how the ring members hope it goes. But it was very odd to have this fall out of the sky, then have scared people bring up issues I didn’t start, about people I didn’t know, and hope I wouldn’t talk. The more I looked, the more it was clear that sitting back would clear a path for manipulation and complicity.

That pressure even came from higher powers in the community — some of them afraid about their own ties. More about that in Part 3.

More — Part 1): Exposing the ring. Part 2): Running scared. Part 3): Investigation blocked. Part 4): A new development. Part 5): Interview with an expert.

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