Global raids target child porn
LONDON, England -- Police have arrested seven people in the UK and carried out 130 raids in 19 countries in a global sweep against Internet child pornography.
"Operation Landmark" targeted people who downloaded and distributed child pornography from the Internet.
Police in 18 other countries -- Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey and the United States -- also executed search and arrest warrants, acting on information supplied by Interpol.
In one instance, the UK's National Crime Squad said, a newsgroup was used to seek help with the 'grooming' of a young child for abuse.
The raids came after a 10-month investigation in which officers sifted through data from Internet newsgroups specialising in explicit images of children.
The organisers said it was "the world's biggest ever collaborative police operation."
Nine forces in England and Scotland carried out 10 raids, arresting seven and seizing computers and software.
In the operation, police monitored traffic from Internet service provider Demon Internet, who agreed to allow them access to its servers.
They made the discovery that around 10,000 Internet users had accessed more than 30 Web sites dealing in paedophilic images.
This they whittled down to 400 people who were distributing the pornographic pictures, and their names were given via Interpol to the countries identified with the suspects.
The UK National Crime Squad then called two meetings, the first at Interpol headquarters in Lyon for non-UK law enforcement, and then in London for British police forces. Evidence on each suspect was distributed to the relevant force at the meetings.
Detective Superintendent Peter Spindler, leading the investigation for the UK National Crime Squad said: "It is particularly disturbing that all these news groups carrying paedophilic images are available for everyone to access -- even young children themselves.
"With the assistance of Demon Internet and the support and guidance of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), we are able to show that those accessing these newsgroups did so regularly and with purpose.
"We also learned, not surprisingly, that those abusing the Internet have learnt from recent police successes how best to protect their true identities."
Spindler said the operation had "sadly and distressingly" brought thousands of new images of abuse to the police's attention.
"These young victims need to be identified and protected as quickly as possible," he said.
"The National Crime Squad, with our strategic IT partners Serco, have developed sophisticated facial mapping software.
"We then hope that the database can be used to identify children who are being systematically abused for the gratification of a small but dangerous section of society."
U.S. targets porn site customers
August 8, 2001
Internet Watch Foundation
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