Police arrest 184 in worldwide paedophile ring: Europol
Police in several countries have arrested 184 alleged members of an online paedophile ring and rescued 230 children in "the biggest case of its kind", Europol said on Wednesday.
"Six-hundreds-and-seventy suspects have been identified, 184 arrests have already been made and 230 children, the victims of these terrible crimes, have been identified and rescued from further harm," the policing agency's director Rob Wainwright told journalists in The Hague.
"We expect these numbers to rise further," he said, adding: "This is already the biggest case of its kind we have ever seen."
Dubbed Operation Rescue, Europol said the probe started three years ago, and targeted an online network, its server based in the Netherlands, with almost 70,000 members worldwide at its height. It has since been taken down.
The suspects were members of an online forum, boylover.net, that promoted sex between adults and young boys.
Europol said the website operated as a forum where members connected without committing an offence. Having made contact on the site, they would then use other channels, like e-mail, to exchange images and films of children being abused.
"I can confirm that this is one of the most successful police operations in recent years in what is probably the largest online paedophile network in the world," Wainwright said.
In the course of the investigation, the agency sent more than 4,000 intelligence reports to police authorities in more than 30 countries.
Countries involved in the operation included Australia, Belgium, Canada, Greece, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Spain, the UK and the United States.
The operation is continuing and more arrests are expected, said Wainwright.
© 2011 AFP