BREAKING NEWS: The Hague, Holland: Police Smash ‘Biggest Ever’ Online Paedophile Network- Hundreds Arrested

16 Mar

British police have helped smash what they believe is the biggest-ever online paedophile network.

Police Smash ‘Biggest Ever’ Paedo Network Enlarge photo

Hundreds held in global abuse probe

Hundreds of child abusers have been arrested and many jailed during the three-year, global operation.

The investigation exposed more than 70,000 network members in the UK, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil, where first evidence of the crimes emerged.

The Australians charged with involvement in the ring were aged from 19 to 84 years old.

Grant Edwards, of the Australian Federal Police, said: “These are heinous sexual predators.”

Hundreds of young victims are said to have been taken out of danger.

The organisers set up an innocuous website that worked as a chatroom, but those who registered got access to more sinister sites where they were able to swap images and arrange to meet with victims.

The layered approach to the website allowed it to remain under the police radar.

Details of Operation Rescue were revealed at a press conference in The Hague, Holland, where the website server was hosted.

Peter Davies, head of the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, said: “The scale and success of Operation Rescue has broken new ground. 

“While these offenders felt anonymous in some way because they were using the internet to communicate, the technology was actually being used against them.

“Everything they did online, everyone they talked to or anything they shared could and was tracked by following the digital footprint.”

In Britain, more than 120 suspects have been arrested and 30 so far convicted.

They include former scoutmaster John McMurdo, 38, who was jailed for three years in Plymouth for possessing and distributing nearly 2,000 indecent images of children.

He had encrypted computer disks, but refused to give police the passwords.

McMurdo told detectives he had become a scoutmaster to widen his social circle, but admitted fantasising about young boys in football kit.

Gardener Stephen Palmer, 54, from Merseyside, collected 10,000 child abuse images and shared them over the internet with others in the US.

Police also found 288 videos at his home showing some of the most serious – Level 5 – images of youngsters. He was jailed for two years.

Another paedophile caught in a spin-off operation in Thailand was Robert Horsman, 47 – a property developer originally from Ipswich.

He was jailed for 14 years for luring a 12-year-old boy and sexually assaulting him in his home in Pattaya.

American and German suspects were also held during the Thai operation, which was supported by CEOP staff.

Police said the global operation against the network members continues, though they are confident they have arrested the most serious offenders.

NEWS UPDATE:

From left, Grant Edwards, Australian Federal Police, and Peter Davies, of the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center, elaborate on the det
AP – From left, Grant Edwards, Australian Federal Police, and Peter Davies, of the UK Child Exploitation and …
 

By MIKE CORDER, Associated Press Mike Corder, Associated Press :

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Police said Wednesday they have smashed a huge international pedophile ring, rescuing 230 children from abuse and arresting 184 suspects — including teachers and police officers.

The three-year investigation codenamed Operation Rescue identified and safeguarded children in more than 30 countries by arresting people suspected of abusing them, said Rob Wainwright, director of the European Union police agency Europol.

The ring was centered on an Amsterdam-based online forum called boylover.net, which Wainwright described as “probably the largest online pedophile network in the world.”

The heavily encrypted forum, whose administrator appeared in a Dutch court on Tuesday charged with sex offenses, had up to 70,000 members.

The investigation was led by Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre but also involved law enforcement agencies as far afield as Australia, the United States and Thailand.

Peter Davies of the British child protection center said there would be more arrests as the investigations continue.

“Those who have been members of the site can expect a knock on the door in the very near future,” he said. In Britain, police said, the children involved were aged between 7 and 14.

Wainwright said the website was intended as a discussion forum where pedophiles could “share their sexual interest in young boys.”

However, after making initial contact on the forum, members would use e-mail and other electronic channels to share images and video of children being abused, Wainwright said.

The majority of the 184 people arrested so far are suspected of direct involvement in sexually abusing children, They include teachers, police officers and scout leaders. One Spaniard who worked at summer youth camps is suspected of abusing some 100 children over five years.

After his arrest, the forum’s Dutch administrator helped police crack the complex web of encryption measures shielding users’ identities, allowing police to begin covert investigations that included posing as children online.

Australian Federal Police commander Grant Edwards said suspects arrested in Australia ranged in age from 19 to 84 and used the internet to “prey on children with anonymity, with subterfuge and with camouflage.”

Children, Edwards said. “should be able to use the Internet safely, without fear of being approached or groomed by these online predators.”

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